One of the cooler demos we saw at WES this year was a new application created by RIM and BMW together. The application uses Bluetooth to sync email from a BlackBerry to a BMW's iDrive dashboard.
According to BMW's engineers, the application uses a new Bluetooth protocol called MAP. Both the car (BMW 335is) and the BlackBerry were running Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. Once paired, the BMW ingests all the contacts from the BlackBerry and will also sync email.
The application lets drivers scan through email headers and subjects, but not read them (for obvious reasons). The application will, however, read emails to the driver. If there is a phone number embedded in the email, drivers can also choose to initiate a call through the software. The call will then be conducted via speakerphone in the car.
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It is controlled via the BMW's iDrive knob in the center console of the car and the messages and other information are displayed where the in-car nav app is located. Using the iDrive knob, it was pretty easy to bounce through emails and a contact database.
It worked pretty well, and looked like a safer way to access email when driving in a car. But it still qualifies as a distraction in my book. Here's a video demonstration.
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