Though Microsoft, RIM and possibly Google are already vying to be the center of the automotive infotainment push, a certain Finnish phone manufacturer says it wants to take charge -- in what seems to be the latest phase of its Terminal Mode initiative, Nokia's tapped infotainment provider Harman to "standardize" the interface between phone and car. Like Harman's last in-dash venture, a touchscreen and physical controls will be the focus, while your handset (rather than an Intel Atom) does the heavy lifting. Connected via Bluetooth or USB, your Nokia will play music, deliver Ovi Maps, respond to voice control and more, with the entire phone display duplicated onto the car's larger touchscreen for easy access and a set of auto-specific apps planned for Nokia's Ovi Store. It all sounds pretty swell, but it's still not clear how the companies intend to standardize anything beyond their balance sheets; we're not sure how much Nokia will appreciate you connecting a Droid to their Ovi-powered car. PR after the break.

Update: It appears that this is part of Nokia's Terminal Mode initiative, which -- as some have noted in comments -- we've actually told you about before. Whoops!
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Harman International Automotive Division and Nokia Pave the Way for standardised Interface Between Smartphones & Car Infotainment

Mobile technology and services to be available via in-car systems


KARLSBAD, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Harman, the global market leader in high-end Infotainment and Audio Systems, is working together with Nokia, the pioneer in mobile telecommunications and the world's leading maker of mobile devices, to develop technology which seamlessly integrates smartphones into in-vehicle infotainment systems.

"Beside our well equipped infotainment systems, standardized interface solutions between Smartphones & Car Infotainment will provide a rich set of additional applications and are particularly interesting for Entry- and Mid-Level Infotainment Systems to allow best connectivity via the head unit for attractive use of smartphone functionality in vehicle applications"
In addition to providing the full range of smartphone features, services and applications through the high resolution screens and audio systems embedded in the car, the connection also supports information exchange between the smartphone and the car; and information retrieval through GPS functionality.

Hence, location based services could be enabled by combining GPS information from the smartphone or car with key vehicle data such as low oil or fuel warnings – in this case the nearest garage or service station would be sourced and displayed with the option to navigate directly there. Hotel or parking searches, for example, could be backed up with details of availability and pricing and, where appropriate, booked online or by telephone. In addition, ADAS*-based safety features may also be supported, for example, to warn drivers to slow down for a sharp bend or to indicate when it is safe to overtake the vehicle in front.

*ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance System

"Beside our well equipped infotainment systems, standardized interface solutions between Smartphones & Car Infotainment will provide a rich set of additional applications and are particularly interesting for Entry- and Mid-Level Infotainment Systems to allow best connectivity via the head unit for attractive use of smartphone functionality in vehicle applications" stated Hans Roth, Director Global Business Development & Marketing, Harman Automotive Division.

"We are happy to be involved in creating an industry standard to connect smartphones to in-car systems. It is a totally logical step and we believe this standard will fuel the creation of innovative new services for drivers," said Vesa Luiro, Director, Automotive, Nokia. "The infotainment system of a modern car is a natural extension for the capabilities of smartphones. Not only will it simplify the use of turn-by-turn voice guidance from Ovi Maps, but also provide a new and easy way of accessing other content on the smartphone, such as music and delivering automotive specific applications from the Ovi Store."

The smartphone display is copied on the larger, infotainment system screen and commands can be given either by voice, touch or traditional in car controls to enable ease of use. For short journeys and convenience, wireless connection can be made by Bluetooth however for more stable, longer periods of use, the USB alternative will provide faster connection and refresh rates and preserve the smartphone battery.

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