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The ultimate connected car will have the intelligence to be context aware by communicating with the cloud, the grid, and with other vehicles, and by providing services like emergency assistance and realtime traffic. Sooner rather than later, our vehicles will have the kind of “smarts” necessary to do all of this, keeping drivers and passengers safely informed and entertained while on the road.

Thanks to in-vehicle-technology investments from many of the world’s top automakers and technology companies, the connected car is becoming a reality. An investment like the one announced last week from Intel Capital,, to the tune of $100 million, is one example of how earnest technology companies are to accelerate innovation in this vertical market.

Intel says its Capital Connected Car Fund will be invested globally throughout the next four to five years to promote compelling in-vehicle applications that enable seamless connections between vehicles and connected devices. In the present day, however, there is no shortage of connected options from which to choose.

This year, four connected cars reign supreme, winning coveted 2012 Connected Car of the Year awards from Connected World magazine: Ford Focus (small), Chrysler 300 (mid-sized), Cadillac XTS (luxury), and Audi A8 (ultra-luxury). Among the factors considered for this year’s awards were safety, including hands-free features and emergency-response services; convenience, including remote access and navigation features; and infotainment, including content streaming and connectivity to peripheral devices.

Ford,, a pioneer in the in-vehicle-technology space, was a stand out in the “small” vehicle category because of its SYNC system, which offers hands-free calling and voice-activated music search. The Ford Focus offers SYNC with MyFord, with the impressive MyFordTouch available as an upgrade.

In the “mid-size” vehicle category, the award went to Chrysler 300,, with Uconnect Touch. Thanks to its sophisticated touch controls and voice-control options, plus in-dash Garmin navigation, Chrysler 300 edged out the competition.

In the “luxury” and “ultra-luxury” categories, the Connected Car of the Year awards went to Cadillac XTS,, and Audi A8,, respectively. Cadillac’s CUE—which stands for Cadillac User Experience—is an impressive in-vehicle system with high-tech features such as capacitive touch control, proximity sensing, gesture recognition, and natural voice control. The XTS also features OnStar technology.

Audi connect, the technology system that propelled A8 to victory in its class, features Google integration that makes navigating the vehicle’s system a breeze. For instance, the system features Google Voice, Google Earth, Google Local Search, and Google Maps. A8 is also a mobile hotspot, meaning you can pair up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices while in the vehicle—but not while driving, of course.

To learn more about Connected World’s Connected Car of the Year awards, pick up a copy of the March/April issue.
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News Analysis:
Cleve Adams Addresses Black Hat Conference
BlackBerry Acquisition to Strengthen Security Leadership
HWTrek’s Hub Brings Projects to Completion
Utimaco Unveils Security Modules, Milestones
A Look at the Future of RFID
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