Everything you have come to know and understand about a vehicle's entertainment experience is about to change.  And, no I am not kidding.

It is the brainchild of Alcatel-Lucent, QNX Software Systems, Toyota, chumby, Kabillion and Atlantic records.  You may say what do these companies have in common?  One goal: enriching a user's experience.  Thus, the birth of the ng Connect Program

To get a better idea of what I am speaking about, let's take it from the top. 

In the wireless age, it is readily apparent that there is a countless number of people that have 3G devices.  It is relatively quick and reliable, but there is a faster broadband technology in the works.  Coming in 2010 is the next step; 4G/Long Term Evolution.  Essentially, this is four to five times faster than your current 3G.  As the infrastructure grows and becomes stronger, so will the connectivity.

This innovation had some of the key players within the aforementioned firms wondering how they could take this technology and apply it in an innovative fashion.  Then it became obvious, the car. 

Now that bandwidth has grown exponentially, it can finally be utilized in a way that is similar to a fixed network at your home.

With this came the LTE Connected Car concept.  The point of this auto is to show just how capable the network is when it is paired with the vehicle.  This would allow the car to become fully integrated and more or less another mobile device for usage at your disposal. 

At first it seems sort of pointless.  Particularly when so many devices already yield these capabilities.  That is precisely where you are wrong because there are so many vast dimensions to this implementation, more on this later. 

According to ng Connect, approximately 30 percent of Americans' time is spent behind the wheel.  Coupled with the increasing need to be connected, the Connected Car is the next step: taking the car, which is essentially isolated, and turning it into a part of a network.

Some of the features include:

    - Road and vehicle monitoring -- This turns the care into a sensor that can collect data and interact with other vehicles on the road.  For example, if you are on the 405 and five miles down the road cars are braking and slowing down, this can be collected and sent to a vehicle that has not reached the problem area.  Thus, this can alert the driver of traffic slowdowns or jams. 

    - Enhanced safety, convenience and security -- Not only can you get real-time traffic and weather, but the system can monitor the car's health.  For instance, if the brakes are worn and need changing, not only will the system notify the operator of the issue but it can book an appointment at a specified dealer.  If a user selects "yes," it will present you a date and time to either accept or decline an appointment.

**I experienced this today and it is monumentally quick.  All done within 15 seconds. 

    - Advanced navigation -- Real-time GPS updates with POI overlays and integrated location-based services.  This does not function like XM or Sirius-based real-time traffic -- those guys rely on broadcast information so it can be inaccurate.  This system is LIVE all the time.  Other cool stuff: click on "gas stations" or "coffee shops" and within the snap of a finger you are presented with all of the nearby destinations.

    - Wi-Fi hotspot -- Any Wi-Fi enabled in-car device can connect to the network "cloud" VIA LTE.  In essence, the vehicle becomes capable of operation like a fixed network. 

    - Home control -- Directly connect from the car to the home/security system.  Left a light on at home OR do you wish to have the A/C running when you get home?  Easy as a click away.  Have security cameras connected through IP? Well, now you can monitor activity with live streaming video.

    - Enhanced communication services -- Hands-free calling/messaging with access to social networks.

    - Audio Library -- Rather than rely on CDs, AM/FM/SAT or iPods, access an endless music catalog through the network "cloud." 

    - eCommerce -- Browse the web or access an application to purchase good directly from the vehicle. 

    - Gaming -- Have kids that are looking to be entertained?  There are plenty of games that can be played in the car, other autos and with players internationally.

    - Video on demand -- Like the music catalog, there is an endless supply of recorded TV programs, movies and user-generated content.  Here's the twist; new media can be rented/purchased for in-car use, stopped and then finished at home.

The real beauty in this system is how easy it is to operate.  It is not complicated and it does not need a joystick, an array of buttons or a mouse.  That means you, BMW, Audi and Lexus. The learning curve is extremely minimal and after about 30 minutes of tinkering with it, I was pretty accustomed to its capabilities.

Its practicality blows away Toyota's latest efforts, who I firmly believe have the easiest to navigate software. 

In addition, there is no lag and the system's uptake is remarkably fluid.  Of course the demo vehicle was stationary and it will vary depending on the network's coverage, but to observe what it is capable of when the networks are not entirely active yet was stunning.

The next problem that presents itself is, will this become the standard and if auto manufacturers have expressed interest.  Although no specific names were mentioned, the leaders of the project seemed outwardly confident that this project's capabilities will be accepted by the producers. And, I cannot see why they would not want to be a part of this. 

What does this all mean?  The future is brighter than ever and this innovation is going to be a game changer for a multitude of businesses and people.  This is merely phase one of an ongoing project. 

Strap yourself in because we are all about to go on one helluva ride.  Do not worry, because it will be a fun one.

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