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January 30, 2016

How To Get The Boom Boom In The Vroom Vroom


Damein Stolarz is a man of many talents. Apparently he's also a linguist and a cunning one at that. I had no idea he spoke Russian. While thats cool, what he translated is even cooler. Consider it a jump-start guide.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Car Computer Articles Abound - Post # 300


Oh happy day, Carhacks has hit yet another milestone, the big 300. Who knew so much could be written about the cute little car computer. Who knew it would become so popular? Who? We did and you did, that's who. 300 Posts later and the media is picking up the stories. Here are a few from the last couple of days:

What does all of this coverage mean? Well, by reading some of the articles we know a few things. The media is scared of computers in cars and is happy to try to make the public scared as well. They have lots of questions and provide some odd insight into the answers and the focal point seems to have shifted from safety to repair. Which is valid. People still cant fix the most basic computer issues, the same goes for cars. Mix the two and it's going to be a nasty combination unless the versions "consumers" get can be hard reset to a factory "good" condition while retaining personal data. That seems to be the pat answer that none of the three articles came up with.

Carhacks has been thrilled to be here for 300 posts and will be here for 3000 more. Or so. Send your tips, comments, articles, new products and anything relevant to [email protected]

Posted by Lionel Felix at 09:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2016

Sat Nav <100 GBP

Autohacks found a super cheap NAV setup for you blokes in the UK. Sub 100 GBP, thats CHEAP. How long until it's just $5.99/mo as a service? I'm guessing soon.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fine Drivin

The Finedrive 700 packs a lot into a little space. It's form factor, integrated speakers and nice design looks like a perfect fit for even the poshest rides.

I suspect it's still in the late production phase as they don't offer any other views but I would guess it's not long until it's available for sale. If they price this right they can position themselves very well in the marketplace and give Garmin and Tomtom a reason to explain their astronomical price points.

Finedrive should send a 700 over to Carhacks for a proper eval. Hint Hint.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 01:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2016

Digital Freak Out

I think we can all relate to this. We wake up, run to the computer, check the overnight emails, read up Gizmodo, MocoLoco, Engadget, and Carhacks, jump into the whip, boot up the carputer, download traffic maps, listen to some podcasts, get to work, badge-in, mount the chair, log on and fully clamp the Internet for the day until it's time to go home and, of course, be fully connected. I sometimes enjoy leaving the phone at home, not reading email all day, hey Mrs. Carhacks and I went to Mexico and... well I did check email, but we weren't fully connected...

Posted by Lionel Felix at 08:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sony Car Walkman

Perhaps I've been too hard on Sony in the last few months. Perhaps I should give Sir. Howard Stringer a little more time to turn the massive ship that is Sony around. Enough perhapsing. Sony Style is still a slow site that shows less than 5% of what Sony actually sells but the people over at X-Plode or Walkman division (Their divisions are VERY separate, to the point where they may be working on the same stuff at the same time and not know) have come up with a nifty little heat unit that comes with 1GB built right in. You rip it off, take it indoors, upload the entire Nick Cave back catalogue and you're ready to go. What blows me away, and I mean I had to call for assistance (on the floor, couldn't get up and all that) this Sony gadget doesn't require any software. Not even some overly complex, oft-crashing bit of terrible UI. To go even further, it appears to play MP3 files. OK, I know, this is all too much, believe you me, I'm flabbergasted too. Perhaps Sir Stringer is already working his magic. Hey if Queenie made him a night, he can do anything.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 08:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2016

January Tech Duldrums

You may have noticed the dearth of posts in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, CES and SEMA shot their tech wads and we're now kinda sitting here twiddling our thumbs. I was going to post that thing about the Vespa iPod speaker / dock thingy but I have the flu, I'm cranky, I'm anti iPod fan-boy and Vespas aren't very exciting. So rather than offer up a lame post I'll just say we're keeping our ears to the ground and will post relevant stuff as it comes out. Promise!

Posted by Lionel Felix at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2016

Mini-box uses power for good

Mini-Box products have a special place here at Carhacks. Their cases are second to none and their work on DC-DC power supplies is unparalleled. Their new M2-ATX is a nice improvement from their outstanding M1-ATX. The newer one boosts the wattage from 90 to 160 and now uses a 15 amp fuse instead of the 10 amp model in the M1.

Mini-Box sent me an M2 to check out last week. It went into my system last night and was pretty much plug-and-play. Their jumpers are relatively straight forward and power hookups make sense. It comes with a nifty harness that plugs right into the ATX power jumper on the mother board. It's good to have the motherboard pin-outs in front of you while doing an install.

Putting a computer in your car can be a daunting task but with one of these, the most complicated part is handled rather elegantly for only $89 USD

Their product description after the jump.

M2-ATX is an intelligent, high power, vehicle (car / boat / electric cart) 12V DC-DC ATX PC power supply designed for car pc and battery powered applications. Designed to provide power and to control the ON/OFF switch of a motherboard (car PC) based on ignition status, M2-ATX is a wide input (6 to 24V) vehicle / car / battery operated ATX power supply capable of surviving tough car engine cranks (down to 6V) as well as transient over-voltage situations. Just connect it to your car / boat / RV / solar battery and power up your PC!

The M2-ATX comes with complete cable harness consisting of:
- ATX cable extender plus HDD and Floppy power (9inch)
- Power input cable harness terminated in 0.25' fastons (12inch)
- 2 pin M/B on/off power ON control wire harness (9inch)
- set of LBJ (little black jumpers) to control various power sequencing schemes

- P4-12V to P4-12V cable (optional accessory)

M2-ATX has 8 user selectable microcontroller driven timing modes, allowing you to choose up to 8 ignition/shutdown car pc timing schemes via a built-in shutdown controller. By removing all user-selectable jumpers, M2-ATX becomes a traditional PC PSU with no ignition control (shudown controller bypassed) and it can be used in non-vehicle computer applications.

Even if your computer is totally OFF, a PC will still consume a few hundered milliwatts, needed to monitor PC ON/OFF status. When the computer (car pc) is in the suspend/sleep mode, it will consume even more power, because the RAM needs to be powered at all times. The power consumption in the suspend mode is few watts. No matter how big your car battery is, it will eventually drain your vehicle / car battery in a matter of days.

While in deep sleep mode, M2-ATX constantly monitors your car battery voltage levels, preventing deep discharge situations by automatically shutting down (using a built-in shutdown controller) until battery levels reach safe levels again. No more dead car batteries, no more computer resets during engine cranks, along with multiple timing schemes, small formfactor and very competitive price makes the M2-ATX the premier solution for dc-dc ATX vehicle / car PC power supply solutions.

M2-ATX is formfactor compatible with VoomPC car PC enclosure and with most Casetronics and Morex enclosures and it is footprint compatible with the M1-ATX. The same version of microcode will run on both M1-ATX and M2-ATX.

NOTE: M2-ATX provides up to 8A on the 12V rail, making it ideal for operating most P4, P4-M, Celeron, AMD systems. Low power Geode and VIA processors (C3, C7) will work as well, leaving ample power for 12V or 5V peripherials (multiple 3.5" hard drives, CDROM, etc).

Other timing schemes / designs are possible. OEM / reseller integration is welcome. Please send en email to [email protected] with your custom requirements.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 06:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More News From VoiceBox

Toyota, not a small car company, perhaps you have heard of them? "Oh what a feeling" and all that? They chose VoiceBox to work with them on their voice integration and control systems. We're so close to being able to just talk to our cars and have them do what we want... Its like right there. Just wait a little nit, it will be so cool then we'll all get used to it and take it for granted just like so many other great inventions that we use every day, like cars.

For Release 6 a.m. PST
Jan. 17, 2015
VoiceBox Technologies and Toyota Enter Into Multiyear Licensing and Development Agreement
SEATTLE Jan. 17, 2015 VoiceBox® Technologies Inc., the innovator in conversational voice applications for systems on the go, today announced that Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. and VoiceBox Technologies will seek to develop tools to enable search, navigation and retrieval of information for potential, future use in Toyota vehicles. This deal is significant because it signals the beginning of a long-term development relationship between Toyota and VoiceBox.

The multiyear licensing deal between VoiceBox Technologies and Toyota will result in a creative, commercial alliance combining VoiceBox€™s expertise in voice search and conversational language processing with Toyota€™s market leadership.
€œThe tremendous amount of digital content available is often overwhelming and could be dangerous when it comes to accessing and retrieving the information you most want in a moving vehicle. Our technology delivers a superior level of performance because you just have to say it to get it,€� said Tom Freeman, senior vice president, VoiceBox Technologies. €œWe€™re delighted to be working with Toyota moving forward with the agreement represents a unique opportunity to combine the VoiceBox conversational user experience with one of the best and most respected consumer products companies in the world.€�
€œWe chose VoiceBox to partner with us because of its unique ability to provide consumers with a great conversational language experience and its versatility in using smart contextual search agents to quickly find and retrieve information,€� said Jim Pisz, national manager of Advanced Technologies for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. €œCustomers should be entitled to an enhanced driving experience that enables them to safely and reliably search, navigate and retrieve information while on the move.€�
The foundation of VoiceBox Technologies€™ product is based on advanced patent pending algorithms that can determine context and intent from conversational speech and then dynamically create a query based on the user€™s intent. Users are not required to memorize exact preset commands and can simply ask for what they want, even in noisy environments such as the automobile.
€œVoice-enabled retrieval of digital content and applications is a key technology for automotive information and communication services, said Thilo Koslowski, research vice president and Lead Automotive Analyst at Gartner.€� Being able to conversationally interact with a device and it reliably understanding the intent is the basis for a successful voice-enabled user interface.€�
About Toyota
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion in the United States, marketing products and services through a network of 1,422Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers in 49 states. Established in 1957, TMS and its subsidiaries also are involved in distribution logistics and motorsports. The company€™s main Web site is http://www.toyota.com.
About VoiceBox Technologies
VoiceBox® Technologies offers the world€™s first conversational voice search platform, called the VoiceBox Navigator Platform„¢, enabling breakthrough conversational search and navigation of digital content from any mobile device and from any IP network. A key differentiator for VoiceBox€™s Navigator Platform is that it consistently achieves a remarkable level of task completion searching across multiple content domains through its Knowledge Enhanced Search and Speech Recognition (KESSR) algorithms, which determine the context and intention behind the words spoken by the user. Intelligent queries and searches are then dynamically executed based on such context and user intent. The VoiceBox Navigator Platform runs on various embedded, desktop and server systems for applications such as music and media, navigation and driving directions, directory and hands-free dialing, and control over digital devices. VoiceBox, headquartered in Kirkland, Wash., develops and sells rich conversational language and voice search applications for the automotive, digital home, mobile phone and VOIP markets. More information is available through the Web site found at http://www.voicebox.com.
# # #

For more information:

VoiceBox Technologies
Scott Snelling, Marketing Manager
(425) 246-0954
[email protected]

(Media only)
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Tara Gajadhar, Senior Account Executive
(425) 638-7000, ext. 5073
[email protected]

Posted by Lionel Felix at 05:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trafficking Traffic

As we have said before, traffic data will converge into a singularity and from that, a big bang will occur although it might not sound like someone slamming into your rear bumper on the 101. Until recently many traffic trackers have been little outfits working for various DOTs. Now they are starting to get all eaten up as having a seamless US digital traffic monitoring system could mean big subscription bucks. The key is having it all centralised as one service than can then be sold and resold. It's one of those things we all want real bad and once its available and in use we'll treat it like another utility we use every day and think little about.

Telematics Journal:

Traffic.com, Inc., a leading provider of accurate, real-time traffic information in the United States, announced today that it has purchased the assets of MyTrafficNews.com, a unique leader in traffic information and delivery in the Denver market. These assets include a patent for the delivery of traffic and transit information.

MyTrafficNews has an audience of more than 35,000 daily e-mail recipients. Its daily e-mail readers will now have the option to sign up for a full suite of free traffic solutions from Traffic.com. These services include traffic alerts delivered via e-mail, PDA and/or cell phone; the ability to personalize and save frequently-driven routes; city "hot spot" reports sent at a pre-determined time; and a toll-free, interactive traffic hotline for drivers on the go.

"Having entered the Denver market in November 2005, we are excited to extend our local reach," said Robert Verratti, CEO, Traffic.com. "We're looking forward to providing a fully-comprehensive suite of services to the 1.3 million commuters of Denver."

Current MyTrafficNews.com users will be notified via e-mail of the process for easy transition to the Traffic.com services.

"I'm thrilled that MyTrafficNews.com has partnered with Traffic.com," said Scott Yates, CEO of MyTrafficNews. "This allows our 35,000 daily e-mail readers to benefit from a much broader range of services."

All Denver drivers can visit www.traffic.com for additional company information or to sign-up for further free services.

[VIA Telematics Journal]

Posted by Lionel Felix at 05:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2016

New Jargon - GeoBlogging

"Hey, I'm here at the Tofu Bowl in Korea Town and it's freaking great" pops up on your screen as you drive past the Tofu Bowl in Korea Town. Nothing like an endorsement. As things converge we'll see a lot of ideas, good ideas, bad ideas and just general, boring, ideas. This idea sounds good but the possibility of it turning into a sour soup of spam, flame wars, and general state of cacophony is worrysome. Then the providers will do their best Keanu "Woah!" and fix it so your account is locked to your commentary and the fun game of people playing Moderator King will ensue.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2016

iPod Dock To Go

Millions of people lay awake at night burning brain cells pondering the same question "how can I make a mint off this iPod thing?" 2point5 may not make a mint but they will make a good chunk of lettuce from their brilliant idea. Turn that ash tray into a dock. We're off the smokes right? (not exactly, but a strong desire to want to quit at some point in the distant future counts for something).

They only support a few models right now but I'm willing to be that they would send you a big uncut cast so you can whittle it down to fit whatever you're looking to retrofit. Now all you have to do is get the AUX adapter working.
From their website:

spec.dock models for the following vehicles:
MKIV Volkswagen v.2
Includes 1999.5-2005 Golf, Jetta, GTI, GLI, 20th AE, 337, R32
BMW 3-Series e-46 v.1
Includes all 1999-2004 models
BMW 7-Series e65 v.1
Includes all 2003-current models
BMW X5 v.1
Includes all models
Dodge Magnum, Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300C v.2
Includes all models
Universal Cup Holder v.2

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2016

Your Car Wants To Chat - VoiceBox

Talking to a machine and having it DO what you asked it to has long been the stuff of Sci-Fi. Early implementations of voice control interfaces have been clumsy at best. Some interfaces catch on quickly and people fall in love, look at the iPod, Google, Telephones and Tivo. The power of a good interface can enchant people and allow the underlying device to become part of every-day life. Poorly designed human interfaces on the other hand can spell disaster or at least a storm of consumer complaining, which in marketing IS a disaster. BMWs I-Drive, Bluetooth, and many VCRs are great examples.

VoiceBox has shown that they know how get people to what they need in their car without making them overly enunciate or get lost in needlessly complex voice navigation menus. Just speak normal and the system will, through context and learning patterns, know what you want. Yes, it LEARNS. Remember that scene in Terminator 2, when after seeing the kid find car keys in the visor, the Terminator learns that is a possible solution? Something like that but without the grenade launcher.

This is only one of a number of announcements leading into CES this year. About a week ago XM announced an agreement with Voicebex for future voice controlled satellite radio systems.

I'm looking forward to a world without buttons.

Press Release:

Johnson Controls and VoiceBox Technologies Collaborate
to Deliver Conversational Voice Search to Automotive Market
Companies Sign Multi-Year Agreement to Enhance Johnson Controls€™ Telematics Portfolio with Intuitive Voice Navigation Capabilities

DETROIT, MICHIGAN (January 12, 2015) Johnson Controls, Inc. (NYSE: JCI) and VoiceBox® Technologies Inc. today announced a multi-year deal to provide conversational voice search and retrieval features on Johnson Controls€™ BlueConnect® wireless mobile device gateway to the automotive market. Product availability and details around specific rollout will be announced at a later date. The telematics voice search capabilities, which include Bluetooth® hands-free dialing and in-vehicle music navigation, are some of the many innovations featured at Johnson Controls€™ product and technology exhibit at the 2006 North American International Auto Show.
The agreement names VoiceBox as the exclusive supplier of conversational language technology for Johnson Controls€™ telematics portfolio. This relationship combines Johnson Controls€™ global leadership in automotive interiors and electronics with VoiceBox€™s expertise in voice search and conversational language processing.

€œVoiceBox€™s voice search capabilities will enable our customers to optimize the use of Johnson Controls€™ BlueConnect technology by offering a more intuitive user interface,€� said Jim Geschke, vice president and general manager of electronics, North America for Johnson Controls. €œWe selected VoiceBox after extensive testing because of its distinct, accurate and reliable voice user interface platform that allows users to speak in a natural informal way when operating in-vehicle devices such as navigation and music management, particularly in noisy car cabin environments.€�
€œWe€™re delighted to be working with a leading, global provider of advanced telematics products,€� said Mike Kennewick, CEO and chairman of VoiceBox Technologies. €œOur conversational voice search and navigation technology will perfectly complement Johnson Controls€™ robust telematics offerings and will enable users to simply say it and get it, without struggling with complex menus or the need to memorize voice commands.€�
The foundation of VoiceBox Technologies€™ product is based on advanced algorithms called Knowledge Enhanced Search and Speech Recognition (KESSR), which dynamically create searches and queries based on context and user intent. Simply put, the technology allows the user to speak in free form and will determine context and intent from the dialogue, and then executes a search without requiring the user to memorize exact commands. Consistent and highly accurate recognition rates for complex utterances in noisy environments make this technology particularly appealing, and also sets it apart from the often-frustrating experience users have with current technologies on the market.

VoiceBox® Technologies offers the world€™s first conversational voice search platform, called the VoiceBox Navigator Platform„¢, enabling breakthrough conversational search and navigation of digital content from any mobile device and from any IP network. A key differentiator for VoiceBox€™s Navigator Platform is that it consistently achieves a remarkable level of task completion searching across multiple content domains through its Knowledge Enhanced Search and Speech Recognition (KESSR) algorithms, which determine the context and intention behind the words spoken by the user. Intelligent queries and searches are then dynamically executed based on such context and user intent. The VoiceBox Navigator Platform runs on various embedded, desktop and server systems for applications such as music and media, navigation and driving directions, directory and hands-free dialing, and control over digital devices. VoiceBox, headquartered in Kirkland, Wash., develops and sells rich conversational language and voice search applications for the automotive, digital home, mobile phone and VOIP markets. More information is available through the Web site found at http://www.voicebox.com.
Johnson Controls is a global leader in interior experience, building efficiency and power solutions. The company provides innovative automotive interiors that help make driving more comfortable, safe and enjoyable. For buildings, it offers products and services that optimize energy use and improve comfort and security. Johnson Controls also provides batteries for automobiles and hybrid electric vehicles, along with systems engineering and service expertise. Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) has 136,000 employees in more than 1,000 locations serving customers in 125 countries. Founded in 1885, the company is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For additional information, please visit www.johnsoncontrols.com.

Johnson Controls
Debra Lacey
(734) 254-5735

VoiceBox Technologies
Scott Snelling
(425) 246-0954

(Media only)
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Tara Gajadhar
(425) 638-7073

Posted by Lionel Felix at 06:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2016

Carmakers Geeking Rides

Great article on the new nerded out whips for a few types of cars. It's nice to see lower end models are getting some tech implants as OEM.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2015 Bloggies

I'm not much of an attention whore, but I can't say I dislike recognition for my work. As more and more of you are coming to Carhacks every day for your dose of Car Tech, I'd like to ask for a little love from my peeps.

Hit up the Bloggies Website and throw a vote our way for best technology blog, best writing or whatever one you think is appropriate.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Parrot GPS Thingie

As phones and GPS navigation are heading toward the heavy petting stage, Parrot offers a new toy for the lovers to play with until the marriage is consummated, they buy a house and minivan, have kids and forget to put the toilet seat back down.

The unit has Bluetooth which is always fun to get working, GPS and should make some phones and PDAs far more useful. Long term, all of this stuff will be included with phones you get from your carrier and use BT to send audio to the car. In the meantime, why not get a Parrot.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In Dash All-In-One Entertainment Comes To Earth


Clarion has heard the crying of the public, "why is your stuff so damn expensive yet doesn't compare to other similar consumer products?". The answer up until now has been a resounding deafening silence from most of the big aftermarket mobile entertainment makers.

Lets look at the facts, the Sony MV-900SDS is a flip-down 9" monitor with built-in DVD player and costs $799 from Crutchfield.com. The Sony DVP-FX705 is a portable DVD player with a 7" screen, the kind that folds up and can go into a cargo-pants pocket. It's $279 at crutchfield.com. My question remains, what is the basis for the lopsided pricing for such similar products. Here are the main differences, the roof-mount version has a slot loader, roof mounting tabs FM transmiter and a pair of IR headphones. The portable version comes with an AC adapter, 3 hour battery and car plug. Do these differences warrant a $520 price differential?

Having worked for Sony for 4 years I can offer a few observations. Sony is broken into many power silos that act completely independent of one another often competing for the same customers take the music player for example, the Walkman and Vaio divisions worked separately to create their players. Even more to the point, look at the lack of common interoperability among their broad product offerings. One would think that we would see more than iLink and SLink to get components to speak to one another? I'm not going to single out Sony, other manufacturers do the same things. Companies like Clarion and Pyle are stealing customers from the monoliths that have lost their way and forgot about the needs and spending power of their once loyal customers.

This comes back to the carputer, as do many rants here. Those who reject the notion that the corporations know better come here and see that doing it yourself costs less and offers more. If Sony released a flip-down DVD / monitor for $250 which is completely within their reach, they wouldn't be able to make them fast enough. Silly me, why would I be so naive as to think that the application of logic would solve anything here.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2016

USB Ports In Head Units

Can I say, its about freakin time?!?! Rather than tossing away those little 128MB thumb drives you can now plug them right into your head unit. Wait, why stop there why not drag that 300GB external drive right into the car and have 60,000 songs at your fingertips? That's what I'm talking about. This could be the best new thing to hit CES this year.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 04:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Phones Are The Borg, And That's OK

NAV hardware makers should be a little scared about the future. We are 18 months away from the tipping point where NAV maps are pulled down to phones via EDGE/GPRS/EVDO/WiMax. I imagine the only limiting factor, and I mean only, is a teeny antenna and GPS processor that is fast and powerful enough to lock on to the satellites while staying small enough to fit in small phones.

What I know for sure is I'm not the first person to think that. Why would you buy a hand-held GPS device for $X00 when Cingular would be happy to sell you a phone that does it, has constantly updated maps and jeeps yet another battery sucking widget out of your pocket. Did I mention that that phone would already be a camera, email device, IM device, voice recorder and MP3 player? Wireless providers are in a good position. They don't typically react quickly to marketplace changes but in their inability to get out of their own way they are sitting on the ultimate platform and network. The move to high-speed wireless networks has been somewhat slow but they may now be seeing a new revenue stream; services. Not ring-tones, that's always going to be an OK source, I'm talking personalized portals, GPS mapping and Phone-to-home/office-VPN.

The unwired comm device will be the unchallenged winner in the convergence race that most players don't even see themselves in. As technologies become absorbed into new phones, their disconnected origins will die off. It may take a while before the IPod suffers its demise but it's coming. If the only thing it can do is play movies and music, a smartphone will take its place in time. The same with GPS devices. We all long for the do-it-all and it's coming.

I only wonder if Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sony Erricson, Treo, understand what power they have right now. The power to consume, combine, and converge useful, wanted technologies into their phones that actually TAKE marker share away from a stand-alone competitor. That's the point, Garmin is now competing against the new Symbian smart-phone makers for some of their customers. Apple understands this with the ROKR to some degree but I doubt they understand that there will be an eating away that after some time will be a significant dent in their sales.

I say 18 months. Windows Mobile 5, a slew of new smart-phones and customer buy-in. Once the hook is set it's the NEXT wave of devices that will bulldoze through the stand-alone device market. The next wave, well, that one will be the one that washes into your newly updated smart-home and starts to truly connect to everything.

-Lionel Felix

Posted by Lionel Felix at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

5th Generation Mobile HD, They Grow Up So Fast

I just pasted the release below so you can get the full flavor. What seems to be missing here is a retail channel. There are enough people putting drives in their car that they can leak a few to us down here. Hey Toshiba, how about a little love?

Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD), the leader in automotive hard disk drives with 85 percent market share, today introduced a 40GB 2.5-inch HDD for use in automotive applications including mapping and navigation, video, digital music and more.

This fifth-generation automotive HDD features increased storage capacity, as well as an expanded temperature specification range of -30 degrees to 85 degrees Celsius. Toshiba will be showcasing its new automotive-class HDD at 2006 CES in the Las Vegas Convention Center's Central Hall.

Toshiba's family of automotive HDDs features extreme temperature and humidity capabilities and a range of capacities, enabling a variety of entertainment and navigation applications. The 40GB 2.5-inch HDD is currently sampling to automotive and telematics customers and will ship in automotive applications in Q3 2006.

Toshiba was the first company to recognize the developing market for HDD storage in telematics applications, and has worked with vehicle manufacturers for more than eight years to develop and design automotive-grade HDDs. By the end of January 2006, the company will have shipped 3 million units to automotive and head-unit manufacturers for OEM and aftermarket products. These fifth-generation automotive HDDs feature improved capacity to assist automobile manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers in designing robust digital devices for the car.

"The automobile is the next frontier for this new generation of digital entertainment and information," said Scott Maccabe, vice president and general manager, Toshiba Storage Device Division. "For eight years, Toshiba has helped the automotive industry understand the power of storage for creating systems that transform the car into a media and information hub. The capacity and specification increase in our automotive HDDs are in response to our customers' requirements and provide even greater possibilities for OEM, head unit and aftermarket system designers to create robust solutions for the car."

Toshiba's line of automotive HDDs enables a variety of applications, such as GPS navigation, digital music and video, and other telematic applications and systems.

Toshiba's 40GB 2.5-inch HDDs are currently sampling to automotive customers, and support temperature ranges from -30 degrees to 85 degrees Celsius (MK4036GAC), and -16 degrees to 70 degrees Celsius (MK4036GACE). Measuring 69.84 mm wide, 100 mm deep and 9.5 mm high, these HDDs weigh in at 96 grams and can withstand operational shock of 200g and non-operational shock of 800g, providing a rugged and dependable option for cars and SUVs as they travel through extreme temperatures and terrains across the globe.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2016

Why Your Computer Will Never Be Simple To Use

One of the things we love about in-car computers is that they can do just about anything you want, as long as you're willing to install the peripheral, software and go through a learning curve. I've been working in IT for more than 10 years and I've seen more than my share of whiny executives who never backup their stuff, get hung up on simple things like shared drives and seem to be befuddled by simple applications. Every year the level of frustration coming from these people (who don't seem to take even the smallest steps to learn more about their systems) remains the same. They want a toaster. They want an appliance. The demand is counter intuitive and as many times as I've told them why their laptop will never be a toaster, they continue to whine.

As this article makes abundantly clear, a computer must be complex so it can do whatever you need it to do. If it were a simple machine it would do one thing well and that's pretty much it. For car computers there will be a split in the road. The user interfaces will continue to get better but there will always be a curve if people want flexibility. That's why people install these systems. If they wanted something simple they would shell out the money for a Kenwood DVD/NAV/MP3/CD player. When they need to get it to do something else they'll be dead in the water. As one would expect.

For the other IT folks here who have to endure undereducated secretaries and over educated executives who both can't seem to grasp the basics of their primary work tool, I submit this to you as a well articulated answer.

For the rest of us who revel in the challenges and rewards of powerful computers, we shouldn't worry, they may get their MS Word appliance one day but we'll always have our REAL computers.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New OEM Multimedia Thingy

Press releases often leave me wanting. Wanting more info, wanting pictures (WHY DON'T THEY EVER INCLUDE PHOTOS!), wanting, details. UEI has something for tier 1 automakers that sounds interesting yet I'm not exactly sure what it is. Tell me if you know more about it.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack