Chrysler uconnect Web turns car into WiFi hotspot

Chrysler has announced that its 2009 model-year cars will be have a wireless communication option called uconnect.  Made up of Bluetooth hands-free, hard-drive based media, Sirius TV & Radio, GPS and, most interestingly, the ability to turn your car into a WiFi hotspot, uconnect will be available on most Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles starting in August.

The uconnect Web function uses a router with built-in WWAN modem, that allows multiple laptops and other devices to get online whether the car is stationary or moving.  Chrysler's carrier partner is Autonet Mobile, who charge $449 for the router (plus up to $50 installation), $35 for account activation and then $29 a month subscription.  Connection speeds have not been revealed, but while Chrysler cautions against using the wireless while driving, there's no actual safety measure to prevent it.

uconnect Phone uses integrated microphones to act as a handsfree kit for a Bluetooth-linked cellphone; new for 2009 is phonebook syncronization for up to 1,000 contacts, which can be browsed and dialled via voice command.  Certain models will also allow iPod connectivity through the system.  uconnect Tunes uses a 30GB hard-drive to store music, photos and video ripped from either USB stick or CD, while for navigation, meanwhile, uconnect GPS shows directions and real-time traffic information.  It also responds to voice control of destination setting. 

Finally, uconnect Studios offers SIRIUS Backseat TV and optional digital radio, with three TV channels and over 130 radio stations to choose from.  Pricing for the other uconnect functionality is yet to be announced.

Press Release:

Chrysler LLC Launches Umbrella "uconnect" Name for Connectivity Technologies

Auburn Hills, Mich., Jun 26, 2008 -

Today's consumers are passionate about staying in touch and want to be connected no matter where they are – home, work, school or vehicle. To focus on the experience and connect customers to the things that matter the most, Chrysler LLC will now bundle innovative consumer technologies under one umbrella name – "uconnect." The function of the feature is directly in the name – uconnect phone, uconnect tunes, uconnect gps, uconnect studios and uconnect web.

"We set out to connect customers to the things that matter most to them," said Deborah Meyer, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer – Chrysler LLC. "The role for 'uconnect' in the 2009 model year places the focus on the customer experience and how the features will make their life easier."

Following are the definitions of the uconnect features.

uconnect phone

What it does: Uses Bluetooth® technology to provide voice-controlled wireless communication between the occupants' compatible mobile phones and the vehicle's onboard receiver. New for 2009, the hands-free system automatically downloads up to 1,000 phone book entries from supported phones. The system also recognizes three languages, and is capable of learning. Voice commands can manage onboard phone book entries, select radio stations and access voice mail. Voice memos can be recorded using the microphone that's integrated within the rearview mirror. Three memos of up to thirty seconds each can be stored in the system. The hands-free option promotes safety, freedom, value and flexibility.

Availability: Chrysler 300, Aspen, PT Cruiser, Sebring and Town & Country; Dodge Avenger, Grand Caravan, Caliber, Challenger, Charger, Dakota, Durango, Journey, Nitro, and Ram; Jeep® Grand Cherokee, Commander, Compass, Liberty and Patriot

Part of uconnect phone on select Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles is an iPod interface, which allows an iPod to be plugged into the vehicle's sound system to play music through the vehicle's speakers, charge/recharge the iPod when the ignition is on, display artists and music choices on the radio and pause play when uconnect phone receives a phone call. The iPod can be controlled through the radio controls and the remote steering wheel switches (if equipped). The system uses a Universal Customer Interface (UCI) connector located either in the glove box or in the center console, depending on vehicle model.

uconnect tunes

What it does: uconnect tunes includes the following features for music, movie and personalized picture display:

A 30-gigabyte hard drive for ripping up to 6,700 songs from CD or USB memory devices in compressed format (either MP3, AAC or WMA file formats)

Photos can be loaded onto the hard drive, allowing the customer to personalize the home screen

Movies can be displayed on the screen for entertaining passengers when the vehicle is in Park (as permitted by the state regulations)

Availability: Chrysler 300, Aspen, Sebring and Town & Country; Dodge Avenger, Caliber, Grand Caravan, Challenger, Charger, Journey, Nitro and Ram 1500; Jeep Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty and Patriot

uconnect gps

What it does: uconnect gps combines the features of uconnect phone and uconnect tunes with navigation and real-time traffic. The system includes an integrated voice recognition system and touch screen for easy operation. The voice recognition system also recognizes more than 100,000 words and can input addresses, which allows the customer to enter destinations while the vehicle is in motion.

Availability: Chrysler 300, Aspen, Sebring and Town & Country; Dodge Avenger, Caliber, Grand Caravan, Challenger, Charger, Journey, Nitro and Ram; Jeep Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty and Patriot

uconnect studios

What it does: uconnect studios offer optional SIRIUS Backseat TV™, featuring three channels of family TV programming, and optional SIRIUS Satellite Radio, with more than 130 channels of the best music, entertainment and information coast to coast. The systems can be bundled or opted for independently depending upon model availability, and either can be operated from the rear-seat entertainment unit or from the radio head unit.

Chrysler's uconnect studios offer optional SIRIUS Satellite Radio which provides more than 130 channels, including 69 channels of 100 percent commercial-free music, plus sports, news, talk and entertainment. Station selection with the radio is easy, using the same familiar method as choosing an AM or FM station. Consumers are able to scan channels or have preset buttons for their favorite channels. They can also search both by music category and channel, which is displayed on the radio screen

Availability: SIRIUS Satellite Radio is available on all Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles

Chrysler's uconnect studios offer optional SIRIUS Backseat TV which features three channels of family TV programming: Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. SIRIUS Backseat TV operates via an in-vehicle satellite video receiver and two small roof-mounted antennas. Programming is displayed on the vehicle's second- and/or third-row video screens, and channel name, program title and rating is broadcasted and displayed on the screen. In addition, when the vehicle is in Park, programming can be displayed on the uconnect tunes or uconnect gps screen for front-seat viewing (as permitted by state regulations). New for 2009 in the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are larger nine-inch rear-seat video screens that swivel

Availability: Chrysler 300, Aspen and Town & Country; Dodge Grand Caravan, Charger, Durango, Journey and Ram 1500; Jeep Commander and Grand Cherokee

uconnect web

What it does: The system will provide high-speed data transfer and flexibility, combining WiFi and cellular connectivity for a new level of wireless technology. The system transforms the vehicle into a "hot spot" to deliver the Internet directly to the vehicle, for instant access to Web sites, e-mail, personalized music, online gaming, photo albums, and more.

Availability: Chrysler plans to offer aftermarket in-vehicle "hot-spot" wireless Internet capability through Mopar® for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.

[via Make You Go Hmm]