Kenwood Highlights Smartphone, OEM Integration At CES

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LAS VEGAS – Kenwood is coming to International CES to debut 44 aftermarket car electronics products that include in-dash head units that deliver tighter integration with smartphones and a vehicle’s factory systems.

New products include the brand’s first 15 head units with hands-free Bluetooth that delivers Siri voice control, the brand’s first two navigation units with embedded Wi- Fi receiver, and A/V-navigation and multimedia head units that display vehicle diagnostics and control factory climatecontrol systems in Ford Syncequipped vehicles.

The Wi-Fi-equipped navigation units use WiFi to access Cloud-based services, including Inrix traffic and weather, via a Wi-Fi-connected cellphone or mobile hot spot. The navigation system also uses Wi-Fi to share audio and video content in a car with a handheld or rear-seat-mounted 7-inch controller/display.

In other advances in its 2013 line, Kenwood is:

• expanding its selection of head units that select music on USB-connected Android phones by title, artist and album;

• expanding control of the Aha app on USB-connected iPhones and on Android phones connected via Bluetooth’s serial port profile (SPP) to 12 SKUs from four;

• adding iHeartRadio control on iPhone and Android phones for the first time, putting it in 10 SKUs;

• enabling all heads units with iPhone-compatible USB port to be compatible out of the box with the Lightning-to- USB cable supplied with the iPhone 5;

• offering HD Radio in 13 head units, up from 12 in 2012 and four in 2011;

• expanding the number of models with control of the Pandora app running on a USB-connected iPhone to 30 SKUs, up from 22 in 2012 and 11 in 2011;

• expanding the number of models that use Bluetooth’s serial port profile (SPP) to control Pandora on Black- Berry and Android phones to 15;

• expanding the number of heads with dedicated port for the SiriusXM universal tuner to 25 SKUs from nine;

• offering 31 head units, up from 2012’s 25, that select music stored on a USB-connected Android phone by title, artist and album, in some cases through the use of a free Android app; and

• expanding its selection of head units compatible with the Ford Sync system to seven head units, including all six new navigation units and one new multimedia units. The technology appeared only in five nav units in 2012.

The Sync-compatible head units also add new OEMintegration features not available in 2012. Those are the ability to monitor such vehicle diagnostics as tire pressure, coolant temperature, RPMs and the like, some of which the factory displays might not show or might be indicated only by a warning light or audible signal, the company said.

Drivers will also be able to operate the factory climate-control system from the heads’ touchscreens, potentially including climate-control functions not available through the factory system.

These heads integrate with the factory systems and to Ford’s Sync systems via an optional iData Link Maestro RR module from Automotive Data Solutions. The module connects to a vehicle’s data bus to retain all Ford Sync functions and other factory-system functions when the heads are installed.

Leading the Sync-compatible headunit lineup is the flagship A/V navigation unit, the $1,500-suggested Excelon-series DNN990HD. It ships in April with embedded Wi-Fi to access cloud-based services via Wi- Fi-equipped smartphone or via pocket-size mobile Wi-Fi hot spot.

The DNN990HD uses Wi-Fi to pull Inrix data such as real-time traffic, weather, parking, speed-camera and travel-advisory information via a Kenwood Cloud-based Kenwood gateway server. It can receive, via Kenwood’s Cloudbased server, Facebook and Twitter updates, RSS feeds, and personal email for playback using text to speech conversion. Replies can be made via speech-to-text conversion.

It can also perform a cross-platform media search for audio and video content stored on a connected smartphone, connected hard drive, or connected flash drive as well as search for content through the YouTube and Spotify apps embedded in the head units.

Through the Cloud-based services, the head unit will search for music by a particular artist or particular genre via a personalized station that the user created in a particular service such as Spotify. If the user searches for a particular song, it will stream the song if it happens to be playing at that time through one of the services.

The head units will also monitor a person’s calendar, providing reminders based on the user’s preferences.

The devices ship sometime in the first quarter. Additional details were unavailable.

The DNN990HD and Kenwood’s four other A/V-navigation units, like their predecessors and like all 2013 multimedia head units, are compatible with the iDataLink Maestro RR module for Ford Sync-equipped vehicles. The module enables installers to replace factory head units in Syncequipped vehicles with a Kenwood multimedia or navigation head unit and retain Sync’s voice control over such factory features as outboard satellite- radio tuners, Bluetooth hands-free, Bluetooth audio streaming, and connected media players plugged into the factory’s USB connection.

The install also retains control of OEM features via the factory’s steering-wheel-mounted controls and enable the Kenwood heads units to display metadata from MP3 players connected to the factory USB port, satellite-radio metadata, Bluetooth and more.

iDataLink modules are also planned this year by supplier Automotive Data Systems to retain factory features when the heads are connected to Chrysler vehicles with the UConnect system.

In speakers, the company is launching a twoway coaxial with oversized 7-inch woofer to deliver bass response said to rival that of a subwoofer.


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