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New Car Radio Plays Your E-Mail!
By Jay Stevens, PCParamedic.Com Research Writer

Palo Alto - Microsoft software and Clarion hardware have just announced they have combined in offering a voice-activated personal computer that should be available this Spring for around $1,300.

   It is installed in the dash of your car, taking the place and functions of the radio. "These AutoPCs are basically turning your radio into what could be a communications system," said Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin of Campbell, Calif. "It's a very smart advance."

   During a recent demonstration drive, the driver spoke in these short commands: "AutoPC, Radio, Preset, Two, Volume, Normal." The computer turned on the radio, tuned it to the No. 2 station on its preset list, and set the volume.

   You can also program in new commands to do the same thing: "Hey, Gimme some classics. Let's crank it."

   Kevin Hause, an International Data Corp. analyst from Framingham; Mass., said he's looking forward to seeing where this leads. "It's an interesting concept, but it needs a little bit of refinement," he said. "To date. Microsoft's first products are great technology demonstrations and the second or third revisions are actually useable. That's probably going to be the most likely scenario here."

   Microsoft is making AutoPC software available to all develoopers enabling them to compete with Clarion to makeaccessory devices and software which can be compatible with it.

   Vetronix Corp. of Santa Barbara, CA launched an accessory package last week that allows AutoPC to communicate with the vehicle's own internal comouter and electrical system.

   This will allow the driver to monitor how efficient the engine is performing, or how well and over what distances the car was driven by someone who borrowed it.

[Clarion is based in Tokyo, Japan with its U.S. headquarters in Gardena, CA.]

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