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ESPOO, Finland – The Car Connectivity Consortium launched last week, bringing leading players in the automotive, smartphone and in-car entertainment industries together to establish standards for how cars and smartphones will integrate better in the future. The Consortium will steer the direction of “Terminal Mode“, in particular: the standard by which cars and smartphones connect together.

Today, connecting a phone to your car is possible in some cases, but the experience could be a lot richer and less fiddly. Ideally, the phone display might show up on the car’s own (larger) display panel, and be operated using the car’s own controls – perhaps buttons built into the steering wheel or the existing in-car entertainment system.

By establishing industry standards, it shouldn’t matter what car you drive or which mobile device you own. Terminal Mode is built on the back of other established, open standards such as Bluetooth, USB and Internet Protocol. Newer technologies like NFC (Near-Field Communication) and wireless charging offer great opportunities for further development.

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A further advantage of this tight integration based on industry standards should be increased safety, as drivers are no longer tempted to make use of their handsets while driving.

The founding members include vehicle manufacturers Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Toyota, and Volkswagen; system suppliers Alpine and Panasonic; and smartphone makers LG Electronics, Samsung and Nokia. It’s an open alliance, though, and further members are expected to join within weeks.

Perhaps more excitingly, several members are said to be expecting to announce products adhering to the Consortium’s standards this year. No hints as to who or what, however.

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For more information on the specifications, developer kits and news from the Consortium, visit its website. But here’s the video we released when this whole thing kicked off last year:

Better navigation, music and call-handling are the obvious things improved car/smartphone integration could bring. What else would you hope to see soon?