I have tested the iDrive on the latest BMW and it is very slick. Frequently used functions accessible by buttons and adjusted by the knob. I could pull up automotive diagnostics easily for real-time trip feedback. Given an Internet connection over a cellular network and a Java computer on board, any commute could be more interesting. I could record any radio program as it happens, or log a GPS location I found particularly interesting. My car could send pictures of the road to a server for detailed traffic information. Open platforms create cool tools!
BMW can continually write updates and add-ons that work together without testing, thanks to the underlying Java. Every time a car owner visits a BMW dealer, new software, like a new navigation system, can be added. Partners that know how to program in Java could also write software to run on iDrive. A rental-car company, for example, could automatically send information such as updated mileage rates to its customer via an on-board computer.
The current Business Week features a special report on automotive technology. Jim Kerstetter writes about the new automotive software capable of updates and upgrades such as Siemens VDO Automotive’s Top Level Architecture based on Java.