Automotive Data Systems (ADS) plans second-quarter shipment of the industry’s first OEM-integration module that integrates aftermarket head units with the infotainment systems of multiple makes and models of vehicles.
“No one else has this now,” said marketing director Dan Facciolo. “We’ll be doing for car audio what we did with remote start and security systems.”
The $169-suggested iDataLink Maestro RR will retain all of the functionality of OEM infotainment systems when an aftermarket head unit is installed, the company said.
The Maestro RR will launch initially with ability to integrate with Ford Sync systems, although such integration will be limited to aftermarket head units incorporating embedded iDataLink software. For now, Kenwood is launching five such head units, all of which are A/Vnavigation units, but other suppliers could follow suit when they launch next year’s product lines, said Facciolo.
Sometime in the third quarter, ADS will offer downloadable firmware upgrades that will enable the module to integrate any brand of aftermarket head unit with GM’s OnStar-equipped telematics system and with Chrysler’s U-Connect system. The head units will not need embedded iDataLink software to integrate with those infotainments systems.
At the moment, no one else offers integration solutions that let consumers add an aftermarket head unit to an OnStar-equipped vehicle without losing all OnStar functionality, Facciolo said. No one else offers a U-Connect solution either, he added.
Also in the works are firmware upgrades to maintain factory infotainment features in Toyota, VWs, Mazdas and Hyundai vehicles, he said. The module could also be programmed in the future to be compatible with potential OEM databus changes.
For each make and model vehicle, the Maestro RR module will have to be paired with a different t-harness to plug into specific vehicles’ wiring systems. The t-harnesses will be priced from a suggested $29 to $35.
The integration module will also retain use of factory steering-wheel-mounted analog and digital controls.
In Ford and Lincoln vehicles equipped with Sync, the Maestro RR module will 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 module will also retain Sync touchscreen functionality on the touchscreens of compatible Kenwood heads, retain control of OEM features via the factory’s steeringwheel- mounted controls, retain use of the factory satelliteradio tuner, and enable the compatible Kenwood heads to display metadata from MP3 players connected to the factory USB port.
In addition, drivers will be able to use Sync’s voice control to control the Kenwood head’s source switching, and drivers will be able to control Kenwood head-unit functions from the factory steering-wheel controls.
The module plugs into the Kenwood heads’ SiriusXM port, which normally connects to a universal SiriusXM satellite-radio tuner.
The ADS module will be less expensive than aftermarket Sync-integration kits that cost around $300, require the installation of a separate but included LCD display to control Sync features, and require users to keep the head unit in aux-input mode to get audio alerts of incoming cellphone calls, Kenwood and Facciolo said.
In vehicles other than Fords and Lincolns, here’s what factory features will be retained with a Maestro RR install:
OnStar, factory door chime, Bluetooth, Bose amplifier, OEM XM radio and steering-wheel controls;
OEM Bluetooth and steering-wheel interface;
Factory JBL amplifier retention and steering-wheel controls;
Satellite-radio tuner, steering-wheel interface, and Media Player’ feature, which plays music from an external USB source;
OEM Bluetooth, satellite radio, OEM amplifier and steering-wheel controls; and
OEM Bluetooth, OEM amplifier with SP/DIF retention and steering- wheel controls.
In a separate product launch, ADS plans a dedicated programmable steering-wheelintegration module designed to work with the analog steeringwheel controls of vehicles made in the past 10 years. That module, called the Maestro SW, will be priced at a suggested $99 and will work with most aftermarket radios that feature wired steering-wheel inputs. It ships in the second quarter. No tharnesses are required.
Although other companies have universal steering- wheel-control interfaces, ADS’s solution adds the ability to make a volume button do double-duty as a mute button by pressing and holding, the company said.
With the launch of the two Maestro SW and RR modules, ADS is entering the audio-interface market for the first time, having for the past six years offered universal interfaces that enable aftermarket security/ remote-start systems to interface with the digital databuses of many vehicles, whereas other suppliers offer vehicle-model-specific interfaces, ADS said.