Android Coming to New Saab Car in 2012
Perhaps it was inevitable — science fiction is coming to life next year as Saab plans to release a car powered by the Android mobile operating system. Android will allow cars to run apps and owners to review unprecedented amounts of feedback from their own cars.
Saab has announced that the 2012 Saab 9-3 will include a capacitive screen in the dash that runs an Android-powered "infotainment" system called iQon (pronounced "icon"). While some luxury vehicles have included very minimal systems, mostly focusing on GPS and settings such as temperature, using Android will basically open up the Saab interface to anything developers can dream up. The very open-source nature of Android that makes it so popular for smartphones will also make the Saab capable of everything from playing media to online shopping.
The 2012 Saab 9-3 will have a 3G (or possibly 4G) wireless connection that will keep a constant Internet connection in the car. This means it will have all the Web browsing, social networking, useful apps, media, navigation and (of course) communication found in an Android phone .
Car enthusiasts will also be happy to learn that the iQon system will also be able to tap into the 500 sensors in the car and give feedback on things such as driver workload, yaw rate, steering wheel angle, and engine speed/torque. Previously, this information had only been available to consumers with a third-party system that must be plugged into the car. The iQon system, however, could just e-mail the data to users.
Of course, such a complex system in the dash raises some genuine concerns as well. For instance, a simple radio volume knob has distracted drivers into accidents, so a highly interactive Android device will likely be even more distracting. If you thought texting while driving was dangerous, imagine what kind of accidents playing Angry Birds could cause.
Also, having such sensitive data available raises security issues. Saab insists that there will be multiple firewalls that protect the car from the possibility of remote tinkering, especially from the third-party developers who make apps for it.
There is no specific release date for the Saab 9-3, but it is expected to go on sale sometime in 2012.