Blue & Me and Fiat 500

Fiat Auto, Microsoft and components developer Magneti Marelli whipped up the "Blue & Me" system gracing the Fiat 500's furnishings (along with those of other Fiat models). The tech platform uses Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system to manage a network that integrates voice activation, steering wheel control buttons and the dashboard display and any Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. The setup is similar to Ford's Sync system; It reads incoming SMS messages aloud to the driver and incorporates music stored on a mobile phone, smart phone, MP3 player or USB memory into the audio system via console-mounted USB port. For a few extra webdollarz, Blue&Me Nav adds navigation and telematics services like emergency management, service info and as-yet indeterminate insurance services. A next evolution, Fiat says, will include interactive navigation and information services like addresses, weather and traffic forecasts, satellite localization in case of theft. The whole dealy underscores the company's tech-urban positioning of the 500, which will likely squeeze higher profit margins out of the Euroeconobox. Click through for corporate-release details.

Press Release:

Blue&MeTM and Blue&Me NavTM:

communicating and travelling without frontiers

Just one year after its launch, the Blue&Me™ system is proving to be a huge commercial success (in fact it is requested by 20% of purchasers of all Fiat Group Automobiles models) and it has won several prestigious international awards. The Fiat 500 will be available with either the first level Blue&MeTM (including a hands-free function with Bluetooth® interface, advanced voice recognition, USB port, MP3 player and SMS text message interpreter) or the latest version of the device, Blue&MeTM Nav, which adds a navigation function at a very competitive price. The Blue&MeTM Nav will be available after the launch and is already wired to enable a range of telematic services such as SOS Emergency, Info Service and insurance services.

Blue&Me™ Nav offers a simple, intuitive pictogram navigation system that features an innovative method of introducing the destination using voice controls.
The destination is located in real time: the map of the country is memorised on the USB pen drive, and this makes access to the data faster and quieter than when a CD is used. And with Blue&Me™ Nav, all the functions are built-in, and the telephone, music and navigation information is available on the instrument panel. What is more, as he navigates, the driver can listen to his favourite music, which he has memorised, together with the map, on the same USB pen drive or media player, or make a telephone call using the hands-free device.

All the strong points of the system
Blue&Me™ was developed in 3 years by Fiat Auto and Microsoft. The partnership was ratified in June 2004, with the long-term goal of designing innovative telematic systems for cars, and it has created a product that has established itself on the market, exploiting a perfectly integrated technology that is in complete harmony with the user, as its name suggests.

Based on the Windows Mobile for Automotive system, this device features an open system that is always in step with the times, updateable, flexible and modular. With the help of Magneti Marelli, Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft offer a platform that adapts to most cell phones, music players and other personal devices, replacing current expensive, rigid hardware, with the great benefit of being able to constantly adapt to innovations on the market, remaining perfectly integrated into the car. All at an accessible price.

Blue&Me™ is extremely safe and easy to use. The voice control system, which is perfectly integrated into the controls on the steering wheel and the information on the instrument panel, allows a customer with a Bluetooth® cell phone to use it even if the phone is in a jacket or bag, without taking his hands off the wheel. And the advanced voice recognition system allows immediate interaction, because the voice does not have to be 'learned', even allowing incoming text messages to be interpreted aloud.
Occupants can listen to hours and hours of digital music in MP3, WMA and WAV format recorded on an iPod, a cell phone, an MP3 player or a USB pen drive, by connecting the digital device to the USB port.
The customer who purchases the Blue&Me™ Nav system will receive a navigation kit comprising a USB pen drive with the memorised map, and a back-up CD that can be used to transfer the map onto a personal MP3 player or iPod.

The Nav key on the dedicated control board on the roof panel connects directly to the navigation menu, which can also be accessed via the controls on the steering wheel, or vocally. The USB key is inserted to start navigating, and the driver uses the keys on the steering wheel to choose his destination by selecting the initial letters of the address; he can even complete it vocally.

Like all other information, navigation details can be displayed on the control panel: destination address, pictograms of the directions to follow, information on arrival and the usual vocal suggestions of the manoeuvres to make, reproduced through the speakers. Unlike other navigators, on which it is not possible to navigate and listen to music CDs at the same time without a CD changer, with Blue&Me™ Nav the driver can navigate as he listens to the music saved in the media player.

The navigation program can be used on a personal computer together with the back-up CD, to save the maps of a number of countries, purchased separately, on the USB pen drive. Then the driver can select a whole country (for example Italy, France, Germany, etc.), or part of a country (for example northern/central/southern Italy), or even a region that groups together maps of different countries (for example northern Italy and Switzerland, Austria and southern Germany).

Blue&Me™ MAP 500:
a latest generation portable navigator
Six months after the launch of the Blue&Me Nav™ system, which has attracted a great deal of interest on the international automotive market, Fiat Automobiles now announces the world première of a new development for the Blue&Me™ platform: MAP 500, a multifunction portable navigator with an original design developed for the Fiat 500 that is incorporated in the car using innovative technology.
Available after the launch and developed with Magneti Marelli, leader in the first equipment navigation systems market, the device represents a new frontier in the portable navigation systems market, as a safe user-friendly system that is incorporated perfectly on board the vehicle from both an electrical/mechanical viewpoint and in terms of connectivity.

This new architecture offers numerous advantages via the Blue&Me™ technology, which simplifies the direct integration of the portable navigator and the car: the data from the CAN network on the vehicle improve the accuracy of the navigator and the voice messages are reproduced through the car audio system. This guarantees higher standards in terms of comfort and of safety. In addition to map satellite navigation, the Blue&Me™ MAP 500 system also incorporates a number of multimedia functions that can be exploited in portable mode, such as the reproduction of music and the display of films and pictures.
Another feature of the device is the excellent mechanical and electrical integration on the car, which does not call for loose cables or temporary supports. Fiat Automobiles has taken great care over the incorporation and ergonomic positioning of the new device in the facia so that it is easy to install and to remove, respecting the latest automotive standards.

The new portable navigator uses a wireless connection with the Blue&Me to exchange information, so that it can be used in complete safety and the utmost comfort.

Some advantages for the user:
• More accurate navigation compared to conventional portables; possibility of navigating even in tunnels or areas where GPS reception is poor.
• Simultaneous management of all the audio, radio, CD, telephone and navigation sources.
• All the Blue&Me functions: hands-free, USB port, steering-wheel controls, voice recognition and text message reader.

The radio and the 'Interscope Sound System' Hi-Fi system

The Fiat 500 offers a radio complete with audio CD and MP3 file player, and a choice of two Hi-Fi systems. The radio is part of the design of the dashboard, in an ergonomic position in the upper part of the facia (the best position for the driver), where it can easily be reached by the passenger. The device can easily be connected to the Blue&Me system so that, thanks to the hands-free function with Bluetooth® interface, the driver can use a Bluetooth® cell phone even if it is in a jacket or bag, without taking his hands off the wheel. And because the Blue&Me incorporates an advanced voice recognition function, interaction is immediate and the voice does not have to be 'learned'; the system can also interpret incoming text messages.

The original sound system has six speakers: two 30 Watt tweeters and four full-range (two 40 Watt and two 35 Watt).

The second system is available on request. Known as the 'Interscope Sound System' it is an absolute novelty in this segment, characterised by refined technology, and ideal for the motorist who wants a particularly sophisticated Hi-Fi system, because it was designed and calibrated specifically for the Fiat 500 passenger compartment.

The new Interscope Sound System comprises six speakers (two tweeters, two woofers and two full-range, all 40 W), one 100 W sub-woofer and a 30 W amplifier. What makes the sound experience on board the car really unique is the fact that the Interscope Sound System uses 3 different methods of processing the signal and the related acoustic effects simultaneously: the first (TruBass) extends the perceived frequency field towards the bass without needing a subwoofer so that the listener has the sensation of listening to a system that produces extended, very deep basses.

The second method (Focus) raises the apparent position of the sources of sound to ear level. This gives the sensation of listening to speakers positioned higher than they actually are, and simultaneously the response in perceived frequency goes back to being 'natural', because the 'colouring' caused by the filtering of the head has been removed.

And finally, the third method (3D) which spatially equalises stereo reproduction, correcting any errors due to the position of the speakers and improving spatial perception. The result is a more embracing sound, which recreates a correct stereophonic effect even for listeners who are positioned further away from the symmetrical axis of the speakers (as in the case of the car).

Related:
More on the Fiat 500; Microsoft And Ford Get N'Sync At The Detroit Auto Show And CES, We Get First Exclusive Hands-On: Part 1 [internal]