• Nov 30, 2010

It recognizes hundreds of voice commands. It will interface with your Bluetooth-enabled smart phone. It was co-developed with Microsoft. Sounds like Ford's popular SYNC tech, right? Sure does, but it also smacks of Fiat's Blue & Me system that has been in production in Europe since 2007. The technology will be available stateside when the tiny Fiat 500 goes on sale early in 2011. The cost? $500 in a base 500, and the system is standard on uplevel Sport and Lounge models.

Like the Fiat 500 itself, Blue & Me certainly sound compelling, but it's one small niche product in a sea of cars, trucks and crossovers. Perhaps more significant is the fact that Fiat's infotainment tech could be available in Chrysler products as early as 2012. And while B&M apparently doesn't do everything as well as SYNC, it also carries some advantages of its own. For instance, 500 Sport and Lounge buyers can shell out an extra $400 for an optional Tom Tom navigation system that interfaces with the voice command system. Fiat also enables drivers to download their driving habits to a USB stick and load it to a website called Eco:Ville. The site will process the data and give drivers tips for more efficient driving.

So will Blue & Me become as popular as SYNC? Who knows, but at the very least it's nice to see that competition for Ford's system is on the way.



[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not sure I want my car telling me how bad i'm driving
        • 4 Years Ago
        +1

        And putting that info online? Yeah, not at all what I'd want.

        On a side note, even though I'm a bit of a tech geek, I really wish car companies would just stick to the simple stuff. The more gadgety stuff tacked onto a car, the more it makes me concerned about where the car will stand in the future. I mean, I love Bluetooth (when it works) and it's pretty nice to be able to connect my iPhone directly in a car, but I really just rather have a cord for a headphone jack and leave it at that. My 2¢
      • 4 Years Ago
      While I find it humorous that I can tell the world that I'm driving my Fiat like I stole it. The question is, other than people with holier than thou attitudes that write their novels on their Macs while enjoying a venti macciaoto at Starbucks, I just don't see the public utilizing a "green" data tracker. Other systems work better because they give you amusing green trees and foiliage while driving, its instant amusement. But people are going to have to go out of their way to enjoy this data logging tech.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It doesn't sound like a SYNC competitor, more like another basic voice command system like UVO from Hyundai. SYNC comes with Traffic, Directions, and Information standard and on MyFordTouch equipped vehicles, an integrated navigation system is only $795. While that's more expensive than the B&M navigation system, it's also way ahead of a Tom Tom in terms of looks and functionality (Sirius Travel Link, 10GB HD).
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants

        "Sync, UVO and Blue&Me are all based on Microsoft tech, they just each implement it a little differently."

        Not exactly. Microsoft supplies the operating system, but the features and applications that make SYNC so popular are unique, developed by Ford to run on top of the Microsoft OS. Buying the MS OS was only step one. To get to where SYNC is today took Ford hundreds engineers doing tens of thousands of hours of development work over several years. Because of Ford's initial worldwide exclusive on the OS (which has ended), Ford has a major lead on any other company buying MS's product.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Sync, UVO and Blue&Me are all based on Microsoft tech, they just each implement it a little differently. Will Blue&Me be as popular as Sync? I guess that's ultimately up to Fiat.
        • 4 Years Ago
        agreed, and it's not a third party device like the Tom Tom that if it breaks cannot be taken to the dealership. It's also not likely someone's going to break into your vehicle to pull out your nav screen as it would be useless to them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hear the name of this and all I can think of is David Cross in a pair of cutoffs.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Viper lives. Just taking a couple years off.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "So will Blue & Me become as popular as SYNC? Who knows, but at the very least it's nice to see that competition for Ford's system is on the way."

      I would say competition is already here in the form of Mitsubishi's FUSE system but I know some savvy blogger would put me in my place by letting me know in a polite way that Mitsu is in no way a threat or serious competition to Ford. However I would think it deserves at least a mention since it is currently available and in more cars then just one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ford? It should be obvious Mitsubishi is not a "threat" to Ford, but why mention giants when you're in Little League?

        Mitsubishi is smaller than Chrysler, Fiat is 3x the size of Mitsubishi (not including Chrysler)!

        Fiat could challenge Ford in terms of investment, development and volume sales.

        http://oica.net/wp-content/uploads/ranking-2009.pdf
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sync also allows you to connect your Blackberry, Android, or iPhone to it via Bluetooth, stream music from the device via loaded songs or Pandora, and with the Android, get turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

        Sure, some other systems will let you do the former, but I don't think any of them will do the latter...except Sync.
        • 4 Years Ago
        SYNC
        - gives you gas prices along your destination route on the GPS.
        -offers voice commands for the radio, music player, air conditioner and navigation system.
        - allows you to reply to text messages with a single touch button on the screen.
        - plays music from USB thumbdrive or XM radio, or CD
        - gives you weather and restaraunt info near your destination
        - gives you traffic information.

        I don't think Blue & Me is any competition at all.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can you buy a Fiat in the US? So no.

      Otherwise, this will become similar to premium audio systems, so offered in every car and not really a selling point, just an upgrade for your model.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why did they put the USB port right buy the cup holder? The First time that cup of coffee or soda spills the port will quit working.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Actually it sounds better than sync. I'm still shocked at how advanced blue&me is being able to send information about the cars telemetry to bt devices and display nav directions from portable bt devices in the mfd.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @boku The Tom Tom system is not exactly 3rd party. It's an official option for the 500. It comes factory installed with an integrated bracket on the dashboard and wiring. It's not like the dealership is the one installing it or you have to, so it would be covered under the actual vehicle warranty. The difference with in dash nav systems is you can actually take it out and use it like any 3rd party nav device in any vehicle you're using.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Anyone can make a computer system sound great on paper. BMW's iDrive sounded awesome when it first came out, but it was savagely reviewed by anyone who had to actually live with it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its kinda weird nowadays to see the (almost gone) cigarette ligher next to a usb port.. Damn.. it wasnt long ago where cars had a lighter and an ashtray for almost every passenger.. Now its replaced by ports for your electronic devices, which I guess is a good thing.. You don't need a cigarette to fight boredom in a car anymore..You can just plug your devices in now and have a good time..
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Fiat also enables drivers to download their driving habits to a USB stick and load it to a website called Eco:Ville. The site will process the data and give drivers tips for more efficient driving. "

      An insurance agent's wet dream Drivers voluntarily sharing and making public measured data about their driving habits. That might come back and bite Fiat owners in the butt.
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