BMW drivers ‘listen to the web’

As if cellphones weren’t enough of a distraction to drivers, some manufacturers are now adding internet access to some new cars. BMW’s new invention even allows the driver to surf the web – without taking his eyes off the road.

As if cellphones weren’t enough of a distraction to drivers, some manufacturers are now adding internet access to some new cars. BMW’s new invention even allows the driver to surf the web – without taking his eyes off the road.

According to the Waikato Times, BMW will be offering audio internet access in its vehicles, allowing drivers to do research while driving. The BMW 5- and 7-Series are likely to be the first vehicles to offer this service.

BMW has joined forces with search engine Google to develop a revolutionary “surf by voice” service. The manufacturer realised that the traditional mouse and keyboard means of accessing the internet is limited while driving, and began researching alternatives. And because a large amount of information is already available in audio format, it seemed to be a good alternative.

In the BMW system, practically all search terms can be entered using the car’s hands-free system. There is no need to use a keyboard or press any buttons. More than 1,3 billion web pages can be accessed

The accessed web pages can be displayed in the usual HTML format and in the mobile-specific WAP format. HTML pages can also be shown on the BMW high-resolution colour monitor. The driver will also be able to listen to email.

But some manufacturers refuse to add web access to their cars. Mercedes-Benz said internet access should not become part of standard car equipment, and has slammed its rivals for offering it.

The German company says consumers do not want to use the internet while they are driving. Jurgen Hubbert, a brand director at Mercedes-Benz, said they listen to their customers and know they do not want to surf the web. Hubbert said customers only want basic news such as road information.

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