Automotive News [sub] reports that supplier giant Denso, which is 23 percent owned by Toyota, will launch a competitor to Ford’s Sync system. The system, named Blue Harmony, will provide music, directions, e-mail, Internet radio, news headlines and other driver distractions through a touchscreen on the center of the instrument panel, according to Denso sources. The system will use Denso apps to bring Pandora internet radio, Facebook, Flickr and other web-based services to the Blue Harmony platform.
According to AN [sub]:
Unlike some voice-activated infotainment systems on the market, BlueHarmony does not require specific voice prompts to, for example, play a particular song over the vehicle’s sound system.
What this means exactly isn’t clear, but apparently the system allows users to create a new station on the customizable Pandora system simply by saying, “I want to make a new Pandora station.” Another confusing point: whether the system is based on Microsoft’s platform, which underpins Blue Harmony’s established competitor from Ford.
Denso hasn’t announced which OEMs will feature the Blue Harmony system when it goes into production in 2011, but Toyota is a safe guess. Ford has said that Sync-equipped vehicles move off the lots faster, and thanks to Kia’s recent decision to jump into the fray, the voice-activated media system is starting to look like part of the price of competition for value brands in the US market. At least until Ray LaHood realizes that they don’t actually reduce the dangers of distracted driving and bans them.