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CE Week: Kenwood Talks Innovation in Connected Cars, Brings the First Ford Mustang with a Wi-Fi Hotspot to NYC

Sections: Accessories, Communications, GPS/Navigation, Lifestyle, Mobile, Trade Shows

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Scott Caswell of Kenwood U.S.A. Company on stage at CE Week.

Scott Caswell of Kenwood U.S.A. Company on stage at CE Week.

As it generally exists in the technology industry, one trending topic at this year’s CE Week was connected cars. A portion of the showroom area even included a few on display, where companies like MTX Audio and Kenwood provided attendees with private demonstrations of their latest in-car entertainment systems.

In addition to a multi-session event, C3 – the Connected Car Conference offered on Tuesday as part of CE Week festivities, Kenwood U.S.A. Corporation held a press conference to discuss car technology the next day. Senior Marketing Manager with the company, Scott Caswell took the stage with Eastern Regional Training Manager Matt Yerger in a half-hour presentation, discussing the modern connected car, predictions for the future and their new DNN990HD in-dash audio and video receiver.

“We’re not just the seamless integrator with that factory system, we’re actually better than the factory system,” mentioned Caswell, discussing Kenwood’s partnership with Ford Motors. Kenwood’s in-dash systems are built with the car manufacturer’s electrical BUS in mind. This is thanks to a partnership with Canadian auto BUS manufacturer ADS and gives them a step-up on after-market systems competitors which can force users to lose Ford’s proprietary Sync voice control, various Bluetooth capabilities, and in many cases the satellite radio tuner.

As a result of the partnerships in place, Kenwood’s OEM integration introduces iDataLink Mestro RR, a vehicle-specific quick-connect T-harness system. It’s a quick install and ensures all in-dash features are still operable in full. Also, the DNN990HD marks the industry’s first seamless integration with GM OnStar systems.

Caswell went on to describe his company’s mindset on car and audio/visual integration as “the ability to interface a vehicle both electrically and physically.” It may also have been appropriate to include ‘mentally.’ With so many accidents related to technology and the use of smart devices while driving, it’s a thin line to teeter when designing in-car systems.

Kenwood’s DNN990HD, part of their Excelon line of car A/V products connects to a Wi-Fi enabled smartphone or mobile hotspot to provide navigation instructions and of course, direct on-screen access to various web-based media sources like music apps and social media.

A side-by-side comparison with the DNN990HD displayed on the right side.

Although users can check and update their Facebook and Twitter accounts, Yerger explained how the receiver is designed limit information that’s accessible to the driver; a feature included with safety in mind. For example, rather than the UI opening an entire Facebook message, it will show just a beginning portion of text and option the driver to convert it through a (surprisingly lifelike) text-to-speech application if it senses the car in motion.

“You don’t want someone playing Angry Birds driving in the lane next to you,” said Caswell, also describing that the average cost to drive a car per year is around $9,122. Some drivers want the maximum amount of entertainment possible in their vehicles, similarly to their homes. Kenwood understands that driving a car in the U.S. is not cheap and seek to provide the complete and simplest experience for new connected car adopters.

Over at the Kenwood display area, Caswell and his team brought press and other industries into the front seat of a brand new Ford Mustang, where the DNN990HD was installed and being demonstrated. Participants were able to flip through the touchscreen interface, enabling built-in HD Radio, Pandora Internet Radio, iHeartRadio for Auto, Bluetooth with audio streaming, on-board Garmin navigation with INRIX live weather and traffic reports, and SiriusXM Ready tuner.

The future of the connected car is uncertain and likewise, currently in flux. It’s exciting to learn how company’s like Kenwood are ‘paving the road’ for car automation as technology advances.

For more information on the company’s flagship in-dash receiver with Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, including a headrest rear-mounted LCD attachment by Scosche, visit www.kenwoodusa.com.

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