Tech Insider: 3 Tech Tools for Road Warriors

Technology news, reviews, tips, and advice for professionals and small businesses

Ford Motors Co. is among the manufacturers offering the latest embedded automotive technology.

If you spend a lot of your time doing business from your car or truck, then you need to stay aware of new advances in mobile technology for automobiles. Microsoft is moving ahead of the pack with new in-vehicle operating systems that can be used for both entertainment and business.

Microsoft Auto 4.1 is the newest generation of embedded operating systems from Microsoft and it is featured in Ford, Fiat, Kia, and Ferrari vehicles among others. In some vehicles it includes an embedded in-dash computer with full high-speed Internet access and navigation, allowing drivers to print invoices, check inventories, and access documents from their home or office computers, right on the job site. Some of the new features in Auto 4.1 include hands free Bluetooth 2.1 + Enhanced Data Rate (EDR), calendar downloads from your mobile phone, and speech recognition software. If you’re looking to invest in a new car this year, here are three features of Microsoft Auto 4.1 that could help you build a better business on the road.

Fiat eco:Drive – Trying to green your company or simply save money on gas? Consider purchasing a car with eco:Drive. Eco:Drive collects all necessary data relating to vehicle efficiency and transmits it into a normal USB key. When the driver plugs this key into a PC, the eco:Drive system presents the driver with detailed environmental performance of the car including the CO2 emission level for each trip. It analyses the driver’s style and then provides tips and recommendations on how to modify ones driving style or trips to achieve CO2 reductions – and save money on fuel. Eco:Drive can be found in Fiat automobiles that are enabled with a Blue&Me USB port, which is a part of Microsoft Auto’s joint development with Fiat.

Ford Work Solutions Tool Link from DeWalt – Do you have a problem keeping track of your tools? Always leaving behind expensive equipment at a worksite? Tool Link, just might solve your problem. Tool Link, which is also a part of the Windows embedded automotive platform, uses radio frequency identification (RFID)-based tags to track which tools are on your vehicle and which ones aren’t. You can attach a tag to each tool or piece of equipment that you carry out of your office, then scan and identify the tags using the Tool Link system on your truck or vehicle. Once the inventory is complete, the system can track the items you tagged whenever they are in the truck, and alert you if they are missing. With a simple touch on the Tool Link screen, your automobile will make sure you have the tools you need before you leave for the job or at the end of a job to make sure your gear is accounted for. Perhaps you get confused about which equipment should go on certain jobs; you can even use tool link to create job-specific inventories. Tool Link can be found on Ford F-150, Super Duty, E-Series and Transit connect trucks and vans.

Ford Hohm – Ford and Microsoft have teamed up again to implement the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for the 2011 Ford Focus, one of the four electric vehicles Ford offers. The addition of an electric vehicle to a household or business could double energy consumption while the vehicle is charging. Hohm is an Internet-based service designed to help drivers determine the best time to charge their vehicle so that they can better manage their home or businesses’ energy use. Smart recharging habits will help drivers save money on electric bills and help utility companies understand and better manage the increased demands placed upon the electrical grid because of electrified vehicles.

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