BMW aims to make its luxury sports cars more like a mobile office by adding Nuance's Dragon Drive! messaging service to several models later this year. With a compatible smartphone paired with the service activated in their car, BMW drivers will be able to dictate emails and text messages rather than peck them out on their device.
The service will be available first in the 2012 BMW 7 Series in July, and will be followed later this year in the 2012 BMW 3 Series Touring and BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid models. BMW's top-of-the-line luxury sedan, the 7 Series is often first to showcase new technologies.
Dragon Drive! Messaging is a platform-level service that integrates fully with the on-board navigation computer of the car. It lets drivers speak, listen, edit, and respond to text messages and emails. Using commands, drivers can even format emails, dictating punctuation, new paragraphs, new lines, and more.
[ For more on mobile device management, see Zenprise MDM Balances Balances Compliance, User Experience. ]
Beyond messaging, Dragon Drive! messaging and BMW's Navigation System Professional together let drivers issue other commands, such as calling contacts or navigating to specific addresses.
Certainly, the main appeal of such a service is safety. It allows BMW drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road when navigating to that next sales appointment or to the golf course. Many states prohibit the use of handheld devices (even hands-free) when behind the wheel, so it is important to be aware of local laws and regulations. Companies that don't govern the use of business assets (such as smartphones) for use while in moving vehicles leave themselves open to a number of risks.
This isn't the first time BMW has partnered with a mobile technology company in its cars. Several years ago it showed off Bluetooth technology in conjunction with Research In Motion's Blackberry. With certain BlackBerry models and certain BMW models, drivers were able to listen to their text messages and emails, which were spoken to them by their car. The service didn't include voice dictation, however. BMW has long used Bluetooth and telematics in its cars to make pairing with mobile devices easier and more useful.
"People want to connect with family, friends, and colleagues while they’re on the road, but without the dangerous distractions posed by manually engaging handheld devices," said Arnd Weil, vice president and general manager, automotive, Nuance, speaking about today's news. "By integrating Dragon Drive! Messaging into the car itself, BMW and Nuance are delivering a smarter, safer way to communicate."
The bad news is that service won't be free.
According to Nuance, Dragon Drive! Messaging will support six languages to start, including U.S. and U.K. English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. It will be available as a 60-day trial for new car buyers. Once the test period ends, however, BMW drivers will have to option in for the service on an annual basis. Nuance doesn't say how much it will cost.
Neither Nuance nor BMW specified what other models might support Dragon Drive! messaging down the line. For a list of compatible Bluetooth devices, see www.bmw.com/bluetooth.
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