There's a saying that makes it pretty clear: it doesn't matter how you get from point A to point B, just as long as you do indeed get there. But with today's vehicles, that's not perfectly true any longer. The ideal vehicular travel involves high-end stereos, and anymore these days, connectivity. Companies have been trying to figure out ideal ways to make cars connect to the Internet, and it looks like Panasonic is going the route of linking up with a trusted telecom in order to make it happen.
Panasonic Automotive Systems of America has teamed up with AT&T in order to explore a number of connected car concepts, with the working agreement meant to create customized products for global automotive manufacturers in North America. Initial concept testing for interfaces between in-car infotainment systems and emerging mobile devices will begin in late 2011, in the Peachtree City testing community. AT&T will provide network services and Panasonic Automotive Systems Company will supply the hardware and integration services.
By creating in Peachtree City, a connected model city, fully open to automotive manufacturers, technology providers and others in the ecosystem, the project will provide the framework to help drive innovation for the connected, in-vehicle lifestyle. Both companies will continue to pursue independent initiatives, but plan to work together on select programs in which their combined strengths and expertise will provide increased value and return to automakers and provide an enhanced connected driving experience for consumers and commuters.
We couldn't be happier about it. An open framework has been needed in the automotive electronics industry for years; SYNC is nice, but it's not compatible with anything on any other vehicle. It would be truly groundbreaking if these two could figure out a way to infiltrate all vehicle brands, and get everyone online in some form or another. We have our doubts about AT&T being the optimal choice for automobiles (considering that most road trips involve trekking through rural parts with subpar AT&T data rates), but maybe that'll change somewhat if the T-Mobile merger goes through.