US: Mercedes launches ‘MBrace’ telematics; plans app store

Mercedes’ new telematics service in the US, ‘MBrace’, will be provided by Hughes Telematics. The system uses SMS and 3G cellular connectivity for its different services.

Mercedes has retained the same interface as that of its previous service ‘TeleAid’, with just three buttons — an SOS emergency button, an “i” information button and a button marked with a wrench for service-related questions. They’re mounted on an overhead console above the mirror. Everything is done with those buttons and voice commands.

Services include:

  • Automatic collision notification: By pressing the SOS button, the user is connected to a Mercedes operator who will notify 911 and stay on the line until help arrives using the car’s GPS coordinates to find the car’s location.
  • Automatic alarm notification: Mercedes will alert the user by e-mail, text message or phone call, if the alarm goes off. If the car’s been stolen, the system will help police track it down.
  • Comprehensive navigation assistance: Users can use Google Maps to send addresses, points of interest or driving directions from a computer directly to the car’s navi system. The MBrace database includes more than 15 million points of interest. Operator assistance for navigation is also available.
  • Vehicle finder: An app on the user’s smartphone will show where the car is parked. Users also can lock and unlock the car’s doors remotely from just about anywhere using the phone.
  • Vehicle information: By press the “i” button on the overhead console, the user is connected to a Mercedes-Benz operator. The dealer connect feature will connect the user with the nearest Mercedes dealer.
  • Real-time weather and traffic reports: Another feature, crisis assist, provides real-time guidance in the event of a disaster. An operator will help with everything from locating the nearest emergency shelter to alerting family members.
  • Concierge service: By paying extra the user can get 24/7 access to a customer-service rep who will help make dinner reservations, order flowers, buy tickets to the opera, book a flight, etc.

MBrace will be offered as standard equipment in all models except the GLK, the E-Coupe, the SLK and C-Class cars, on which it’s an option. Customers get the first six months free, then the service costs $280 a year. If users want the concierge service, it’s another $20 a month.

Mercedes Benz claims more services will be added and the company is also considering an “app store” where customers can pick and choose services. In two years the company plans to launch a new hardware platform.

Courtesy: Wired.

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