Thursday, May 16, 2013

BlackBerry flaunts BB10 Bentley at BlackBerry Live

ORLANDO, Fla. -- One of the most memorable moments from BlackBerry Live 2013 was when CEO Thorsten Heins jumped into a special Bentley luxury auto tricked out with BB10 software. That's why I decided to see what the fuss was all about personally.

Behind the wheel of the BB10-powered Bentley (pictures)

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Luckily BlackBerry was thoughtful enough to provide the premium car for display on the BlackBerry Live show floor. And yes, after spending a short time behind the wheel of this fine automobile, I can report it's a sweet ride. Specifically I'm speaking to the Bentley's smooth integration of phone features, though the vehicle's plush leather seats and deliciously crafted interior didn't hurt.

Indeed, as Heins demonstrated on stage yesterday, the Bentley links to BlackBerry 10 smartphones to provide drivers with voice communication, texts, e-mail, and even video conferencing direct from the dashboard. In my quick demo conducted by reps from QNX (the folks behind both the car software and the platform supporting BB10), we placed multiple live video calls to a BlackBerry Z10 handset.

The auto displays text, video, and other information on a custom, curved projection screen. You can even interact with the interface without touching the display, but by merely hovering your hand over menu icons. There's a BB10 smartphone app as well that ties into the Bentley's diagnostics, so checking tie pressure and other stats is effortless. It's very slick technology, but as the QNX representative made sure to point out, it's one best used when the car is parked. I agree since the last thing I need are more distractions while driving.

To be clear, this solution is a concept only and not currently for sale. Even so, judging from the way many automakers such as Tesla and GM are rolling smartphone connection features into their most-techie models, it's a sign of where the industry is headed.

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