At this month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Audi demonstrated a new portable tablet which they hope will blur the lines between your virtual life and your corporeal life, allowing for unprecedented levels of networking between you, your car and the internet.
Its called the Audi Smart Display, and it combines the sleek and speedy technology of modern consumer electronics with the no-nonsense robust reliability you might expect from car accessories.
The model displayed in Las Vegas was a prototype, featuring a 10.2” full-HD display, an Android operating system and a powerful NVIDIA Tegra 40 processor, all housed in lovely brushed aluminium casing.What Does It Do?
The Audi Smart Display ostensibly allows you to access and operate all of your cars infotainment systems, but it has uses far beyond this basic remit.
Seeing as it's inadvisable to use a tablet whilst driving, the Audi Smart Display is of course designed for passenger use. It lets passengers in the front or the back control the radio, media and navigation systems whilst monitoring data on the car's current operating status.
Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless also allows for full internet access, with access to over 950,000 apps in addition to the numerous films, music, audio books and eBooks available through the Android app store, Google Play.
The Audi Smart Display unit's internal storage can be used as a music and video jukebox. Brilliantly, should your passengers not be able to complete a film viewing on a journey, it can be resumed at exactly the same point when you get home. Synergy, you see.
The Smart Display uses the Audi sound system to play music and film audio in perfect quality, but external headphones can also be used. Near field communication technology (NFC) allows for easy Bluetooth connectivity, and an integrated camera means that it can be used for Skype video calls.
So is the Audi Smart Display an entertainment tablet that doubles as a car accessory, or a car accessory that doubles as an entertainment tablet? It's both, of course. Yet because it's designed to withstand the extremities of temperature or impact that motoring can bring, it's significantly tougher than pretty much any other tablet out there.
At the very least, it should end, once and for all, the fight amongst passengers over who sits where. From now on, they'll just fight over who gets to use the tablet instead.