Modern Automotive Technology Allows Safer, Hands–Free Connectivity
Many manufacturers are implementing hands-free technology to help you interact more safely with your devices while behind the wheel of their cars. Whether it's Bluetooth connectivity to allow you to place calls, operate your music player, or to send and receive texts, these automotive technologies are improving every day and are appearing as standard equipment in more and more new cars.

Voice activated controls and features allow vehicle occupants to easily use voice commands to control a variety of vehicle systems and features such as their cell phone, audio system, navigation system, climate control, and other electronic systems.

On top of offering basic hands-free connectivity for entertainment and cellphone use, most of these systems also integrate automatic notification to 911 in case of accidents. Beyond safety, communications, and entertainment, some of the premium level systems offer luxury concierge systems that will even go so far as to provide personal assistant, "concierge" type services that can make dinner reservations or book travel arrangements for you, and much, much more. Others can even send you a text message to let you know if the valet has taken your car out for a spin.

What Kinds Of Hands-Free Connectivity Systems Are In Vehicles These Days? Take A Look, Some Of These Systems Might Surprise You!

Cadillac's CUE interface brings the intuitive control of smartphones and tablets safely to the road. With a clean, easy-to-use design, Natural Voice Recognition, and responsive touch-screen technology, CUE safely and conveniently connects drivers to information, entertainment, and communication via the CUE Collection suite of in-vehicle applications. Cadillac will be adding more advanced in-vehicle technology with high-speed OnStar 4G LTE connectivity and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot that can host up to seven connected devices. Initial apps will include iHeartRadio, Slacker, NPR, and The Weather Channel. OnStar 4G LTE will be standard on all 2015 Cadillac models; the CUE Collection will be standard on all 2015 Cadillac models with CUE. Both technologies will roll out across the model lineup through the second half of 2014. Also new for 2015 is the addition of Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users.

Chrysler's UConnect system pairs with Bluetooth-enabled devices to keep drivers focused on the road with voice-recognition commands and enhanced text messaging, streaming Bluetooth audio, one-touch emergency notification and roadside assistance, and a theft alarm notification system, which alerts users via SMS or e-mail whenever their vehicles' security alarms are activated. UConnect's 3G Wi-Fi service lets you bring your office or living room along for any trip, allowing passengers to use their portable device to send messages, read email, watch streaming video, and play games from within the car or from up to 150 feet away.

The MyFord connectivity suite uses Ford Sync functionality to allow hands-free operation of nearly all mobile phones, PDAs, and digital media players into their cars using voice commands, the vehicle's steering wheel, radio controls, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Depending on the vehicle and the implementation, MyFord may offer a full-color screen and touch-screen capability. Some MyFord Touch systems also capable of receiving text messages and reading these text messages aloud to occupants of the car.

From the hands-free dialing commands, to accessing your favorite music, the General Motors IntelliLink system delivers a world of infotainment and connectivity using Natural Language Voice Recognition technology or via a high-resolution color touch screen. Available on a variety of Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC products, the IntelliLink system now boasts a new, configurable feature called Teen Driver that allows parents to set a radio volume limit, establish a speed warning set between 40 and 70 mph, and set a speed limiter. It also automatically mutes the radio when the driver or front passenger safety belt is not fastened and a "report card" that records mileage, wide-open-throttle events, ABS events, maximum speed and other data. The custom features are locked by a PIN, which is set by the parent.

Much like the CUE system found in Cadillac vehicles, General Motors vehicles will also benefit from advanced in-vehicle technology with high-speed OnStar 4G LTE connectivity and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot that can host up to seven connected devices. Select General Motors vehicles will also offer Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users as well as a convenient voice texting feature that works with iPhones and Android systems to allow drivers to send and receive text messages hands-free.

To help avoid the temptation of a picking up a buzzing phone, General Motors has begun designing hideaway pockets into the dash of many of their vehicles, giving drivers a safe, out-of-the-way place to install their phones while still allowing convenient USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Drivers simply place their devices into storage cubbies hidden behind a motorized faceplate in the dash of certain models.

Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system combines safety, service, and infotainment into a package that works to both help simplify Hyundai owners' lives and reduce distracted driving. Blue Link offers more than 30 unique connectivity features divided into three types of packages, and includes a maintenance alert that helps drivers identify and schedule service, an "Eco-Coach" that improves efficient driving, navigation that also offers restaurant ratings, remote door lock/unlock capabilities, as well as a remote vehicle start that allows a driver to heat or cool the car before driving. A "Valet Alert" offers geo-fencing services, and can send a text if a driver has ventured outside prescribed borders or time constraints. You can receive alerts if your Hyundai vehicle exceeds certain speeds, and a stolen vehicle slowdown system can help police recover a stolen vehicle.

Blue Link Assurance works very similar to GM's familiar OnStar service, which includes core safety services for a subscription price. These key safety services include: Automatic Collision Notification, SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance.

As with most popular in-car telematics programs, users of the Infiniti Personal Assistant can get help with directory assistance and driving directions, as well as emergency roadside assistance and weather forecasts 24 hours a day from an entire team of professional live personal assistants, all at the push of a button. However Infiniti's program extends its personalized services to include city guides, dining suggestions and reservations; movie times and reviews; stock market information, even sports scores and stats. Infiniti owners can use the service to schedule reminders, plan events, make travel arrangements, or even complete an online purchase.

An especially useful aspect of the service is that answers or assistance on a range of topics and tasks are available either in-car through the Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System voice command or away from the vehicle. In the car and want to make go to dinner? Simply dial up from the car to let the concierge find a place for you to eat, and then help you find your way there. Once at dinner, you can use the service to get movie reviews and find out which ones are showing nearby. And as if all of this is not convenient enough to have in the car, Infiniti also offers the same services through a mobile app that lets you take your personal assistant out of the car with you, wherever you go.

Kia's UVO eServices Infotainment System with voice command navigation offers an in-vehicle connectivity experience that includes navigation, vehicle diagnostics capabilities, 911 connect, as well as hands-free mobile phone management capabilities and control of music from a variety of media sources. For added security, will monitor your vehicle's driving behavior and inform you of your habits, how you can drive more safely, and if your car breaks any of your set Speed, Curfew, or Geo-fence rules. One other handy feature is a "Parking Minder" that helps you remember where you parked your car. Away from the car, access the Download UVO eServices App to your Android or iOS device to access all the features that make driving your Kia vehicle more convenient available with your smartphone when you're away from the car.

Mercedes-Benz mbrace is a premium luxury service that brings the internet to your dashboard, allowing you to connect to your car from your smart phone of your computer. Beyond hands-free operation of you cellphone and entertainment functions, the latest-generation of mbrace system features 3G connectivity and has been upgraded to offer new services such as the ability to update software remotely through cloud networks. The mbrace mobile app includes Facebook, Google, and Yelp! and the system is compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones. Other features include speed alerts, geo-fencing alerts, and valet parking protection to alert you if a speed you select is exceeded or a boundary is crossed. A DriveStyle iPhone app is intended to help reduce driver distractions by allowing drivers to interact with their vehicle in place of their mobile device. For safety, mbrace senses if your airbag or seatbelt tensioner has been activated and will call 911 for you to automatically report the accident and your location. Send2Benz and Route2Benz allow you to find a destination and choose a route from your computer, and then send it to your car's navigation system — or you can talk to a virtual co-pilot to help guide you, turn-by-turn to your destination . Helpful concierge services by real humans will help you get a reservation for dinner, tickets to a show, and even book flights, hotels, and rental car.

Drive safer with NissanConnect, which uses BlueTooth or USB connectivity to offer voice operation of your smartphone and hands-free texting, while your Nissan's display screen lets drivers stay in touch with the outside world via live SiriusXM traffic and weather with smart navigation that can offer alternative routes to avoid delays. You can also download the NissanConnect app to your smartphone and stay in sync with what interests you via in-car apps that include Facebook feeds, iHeart radio, TripAdvisor, and more.

Toyota's Entune system connects most smartphones via Bluetooth or USB to the vehicles' head unit and display screen to offer hands-free voice activated operation of your cellphone and streaming audio. It also offers access to popular mobile apps like, OpenTable, Yelp, and Facebook Places, as well as in-car data services that keep you in the know about stocks, weather, sports, and fuel prices via most smartphones with a data connection.

Buying a New Car?

If you're in the market to buy a new car featuring these types of hands-free infotainment and connectivity systems, be sure to visit where you can see what other people actually paid (not just MSRP) for the same car by make/model and even down to the options (even these technology upgrades) in your local area to give you an idea what is a fair market price for the vehicle you're interested in purchasing.

The Hartford Auto Buying Service also helps you find Certified Dealers located near you so you can see how much you could save.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.
One Hartford Plaza Hartford, CT 06155 United States © 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Posted 1:53 PM

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