Audi is at the cutting edge of in-car infotainment. At Las Vegas’s Consumer Electronics Show this year, visitors were able to experience the best that the technology has to offer in the form of an A3 with an Nvidia-powered system. Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chip, currently used to power high-end tablets, gives the A3’s on-board electronics the power to use Google Street View smoothly – while you’re on the street in question.
The Audi Connect interface makes using the system intuitive and fun, but it’s the quality of the graphics and the speed of connection that’s really exciting. There’s a 4G cloud connection – Audi became the first manufacturer to incorporate the new system in 2013 – and an integrated WLAN hotspot, which allows passengers to use their own devices and surf the internet independently.
It’s a step on the road towards the much-vaunted “Internet Of Things”, but as of now there are very few limits on what you can do in a car. The Audi Connect system itself, with its superfast 4G connection, allows the driver to use Google Earth/Street View, listen to streamed music and find gas stations, amongst other things. At the same time, the passengers can stream movies in HD, read online newspapers, play the slots at an online casino, update their Facebook status, and so on. One of them can be doing some video conferencing, while another plays Word With Friends!
Internet Of Things
The Internet of Things is usually spoken about in terms of a “refrigerator of the future”, which orders milk (or orders you to go and buy some) when you run out, or when your existing milk passes its sell-by date. Drivers can expect systems in which, when you run low on fuel, your in-car system automatically offers you a re-route to the nearest gas station.
But it doesn’t stop there. If driverless cars are really coming – and they almost certainly are – they’re not going to work too well without superfast connectivity. Constant, accurate, centrally-recorded and analysed energy use data may be used to improve fuel consumption. Also debuting at CES Las Vegas were Audi’s laser-based high-beam headlights, capable of illuminating the road for a third of a mile ahead. They’re more expensive than the current LED technology, but use much less energy.
The Road Ahead
Audi’s compact is now 18 years old – a significant milestone, and the fact that Audi is using it as the figurehead of its next-gen technology rollout is encouraging for fans of the premium hatchback. The A3 clearly has a bright future ahead.