Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A well kept Mercedes secret!

Mercedes Benz Engineering Mode
When I started looking for a car to replace my 2007 Mercedes E350, I was looking for a bargain. Marc at eCarone helped me pick the perfect car. A 2010 E350 of course. It was a great price. The car did not have navigation. I don't care about navigation, to be honest with you, I prefer using my phone map whenever needed. The only problem was if the car doesn't have navigation, it will not have the wireless bluetooth streaming option; which is something I use all the time.
I went to the Mercedes Dealership to see what it takes to add this option. To my disappointment, they claimed that the option can not be added without adding a full navigation system which is very expensive. It just didn't add up. The car doesn't have navigation, but it has all the ingredients needed to have bluetooth streaming, like audio controls, phone integration and bluetooth. It seemed more like a software change than hardware.

I researched online and came across something called Engineering Mode. I was puzzled because I learnt that you could enable many hidden features on your Command screen. Some of the key features are enabling MP3 playback and enabling playback of multi-region disks.
Press these three keys, "hangup + # + 1" for about 10 seconds. Once you get in there, you have a ton of settings, logs and options to play with. I tried enabling a bunch of different things, but nothing seemed to make much of a difference. The coolest thing was probably the bluetooth audio for wireless streaming, but unfortunately I couldn't get it to connect to my iPhone. It seemed buggy. It will show on the screen as an option, but it won't connect.

I added the option to the screen and I took the car again to the Dealership. I asked to do a software update and voila', problem solved. My car was still under warranty, so it didn't cost me a penny. If the car is not under warranty, it shouldn't cost over a $100 to do the update.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E550 Coupe | P2 PKG, AMG APPEARANCE PKG, PANORAMIC, NAVIGATION in Carrollton, Texas

Google glasses as optional equipment?

Google Glass is Google's attempt to replace the computer in our pockets, i.e. the phone, to a computer that we can wear. It is a hands-free head-mounted intelligent device that can be worn as eyewear. People are already wearing them while driving which is illegal. Cecilia Abadie, from San Diego found out the hard way. She got ticketed  while driving with her smart goggles on.

So why not integrate it into the car system. Well, leave it to the German carmakers to pick up the latest and fanciest gadget and come up with an application for it in their cars. Mercedes is developing a new navigation system that utilizes Google Glass with a voice activated interface in one lens. The Google Glass will be able to guide drivers to their cars, transfer a destination address to the vehicle's navigation system and back to the Glass allowing a walking directions to your final destination.

Drivers will be able to access the Internet and many other applications without distraction. Normally you need to take your eyes off the road and look at the car console screen, but with the Glass, your line of vision will remain on the road.

The Mercedes Benz "vision" is a few years shy from making it into any of their current models. The Glass is not released to consumers yet. But Mercedes is definitely trying to be ready just in case it becomes popular.

Mercedes, and many other luxury automakers, are approaching technology differently. They are adapting new technologies quickly and building new models that are capable of integrating new gadgets. You know you could never predict what future "rich" nerds will be into.