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Audi's next-gen Multi-Media Interface (MMI) technology will debut in the new Audi Q5 compact crossover arriving later this year. Built by Harmon/Becker Automotive Systems, it is reportedly going to set benchmarks for automotive navigation, communication, and wide-screen entertainment. (We'll just pretend we've never heard that before.)

In any case, the system utilizes a high-performance NVIDIA® graphics processor for smooth map transitions, even while underway. Vehicle orientation is enhanced by a three-dimensional view with true-to-scale terrain, and photorealistic depictions of key landmarks. They've even gone so far (too far?) as to include commercial points of interest complete with brand logos for easier driver identification. The new MMI will include support for external USB storage media (iPod or MP3), satellite radio, and it contains an integral four-band GSM cell phone (SIM card ready) with Bluetooth connectivity. While we welcome a faster processor, let's hope the additional complexity comes with a simplified interface. Having spent hours futzing with the current-gen MMI, and the competition's COMAND and iDrive infotainment systems... we are crossing our fingers, but still reserving judgment until we actually use it.

Hit the jump for the press release.

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Harman International Unveils New Infotainment Platform with Audi

KARLSBAD, Germany- Harman/Becker Automotive Systems, a unit of Harman International, (NYSE:HAR) announced today that its latest generation MMI 3G infotainment system will debut in the new Audi Q5 compact crossover vehicle during the fall of 2008. The launch continues a close relationship between Harman and the German luxury automaker that began in 1989.

"The exceptional performance spectrum of this new platform is a tribute to the cooperation and team spirit between our two companies' specialists," said Dinesh C. Paliwal, Harman Chief Executive Officer. "We are delighted to apply our leading-edge technology with Audi to create an exciting new experience for drivers."

The Harman/Audi platform sets new benchmarks for automotive navigation, communication and wide-screen entertainment. A high-performance NVIDIA® graphics processor ensures that navigation map images transition smoothly, even when the vehicle quickly changes direction. Driver orientation is enhanced by a three-dimensional landscape view that reproduces true-to-scale terrain. Photorealistic depiction of points of interest allows visual matching of key landmarks to the in-car display, and identification of commercial points of interest is enhanced with well-known brand logos. The display offers a bird's-eye view of more-distant destinations and features automatic close-up zoom at intersections.

Available map media cover 43 European countries, the United States and Canada. Precise audio route instructions and voice commands for audio, telephone, address book and navigation functions are supported in eight languages. The system supports connection of external devices such as USB storage media or an Apple iPod; a jukebox function allows for creation of personal music playlists. The digital radio accepts both European Digital Audio Broadcast signals and U.S. satellite services. An integral four-band GSM cell phone supports Bluetooth® connection and accepts a SIM card from a driver's personal phone.

More than 250 Harman International personnel from Germany, the U.S. and Canada contributed to development and systems integration of the platform.