Spotlight: Mercedes mbrace Telematics System

mBrace is Mercedes-Benz’s replacement for their Tele Aid telematics system.  Based on a Hughes Telematics’ system mbrace will provide the standard telematics features (ACN, SVN, Remote Door Unlock, etc) as well as the ability for users to download applications to their car and/or smartphone to interact with their vehicles, what Mercedes is calling ‘connected services.’   Users will be able to do things like monitor tire pressure, unlock doors, and mark locations on a map (so you can find your car in a big parking lot), but the best applications are probably yet to be thought of developed.

The system will cost $280/yr (after the free 6 month trial) for the basic service and another $20/mth for the plus package (which integrates the concierge services and POI downloads).

Mark Boyadjis of iSuppli had some hands on time with the system reported the system is far superior to the Tele Aid system and that the door lock app worked great while the vehicle finder’s performance left something to be desired (not surprising given the vagaries of GPS).  You can checkout the rest of the writeup here.

Ford has recently announced an API to allow developers to create applications that interact with or can be controlled by the vehicle [shameless plug: article on that system forthcoming, check back soon].  This system seems to offer some of that flexibility, but I have not been able to uncover what HTI’s system actually is.  So, I can’t tell you exactly what the processor is or what operating system it runs, but the system does included an embedded 3G modem from Verizon Wireless.

For now the system sounds significantly scaled back from what it will be someday.  None of it strikes me as killer apps, but from what I understand this is only the beginning for the HTI system.  I am researching HTI’s system further and soon enough we’ll talk about  how Hughes products will fill the space in the telematics marketplace.  For now, you can read an extensive write-up on what the HTI system looks like, conceptually, here.

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