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Hands-free

The wireless gurus over at Parrot have just announced the company's latest car receiver, the Asteroid, and from what we can see so far it looks pretty sweet. In addition to the usual the bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern day system – like geo-location, hands-free music listening, and hands-free telephony – the Asteroid has thrown an unexpected element into the mix. It's running on Android. Read More
Ted Cardenas, Director of Product Planning for Pioneer Electronics , likes smartphones. Much as he likes, them, however, he feels that they’re too small and require too much attention for use while driving. That’s why, today at CES in Las Vegas, he unveiled his company’s new in-dash navigation systems. Pioneer has partnered with Aha Internet Radio to bring online social media services such as Facebook and Twitter to the system, which actually reads drivers their text messages, traffic updates and other text-based information aloud as they’re driving – along with playing a swag of online radio stations via Pandora. Cardenas also presented the Smart Cradle, an earlier-previewed dash-mounted iPhone holder that enhances GPS-enabled apps. Read More
SYNC is Ford's in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that lets drivers make hands-free phone calls, and control things such as their music player via voice commands. Instead of trying to cram more and more functions into SYNC’s virtual brain, Ford engineers have taken a more flexible approach – they’ve created smartphone apps that drivers can control through SYNC, using voice commands or steering wheel buttons. Existing SYNC systems will first require a download of the AppLink software, which will debut on 2011 Ford Fiestas. Read More
A recent New York Times print advertisement for the Ford Edge crossover included barcodes that, when scanned by a mobile phone camera, provided readers with access to Times articles on style and technology. It’s part of a techy advertising campaign for the Edge, which will be the first vehicle to feature the likewise-techy MyFord Touch system. Touch is built around Ford’s existing Windows-based SYNC communications and entertainment system, and allows drivers to use the dashboard as... well, pretty much as a big smartphone. Read More
The Japanese wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo has recently developed and demonstrated a peculiar pair of headphones that can precisely detect a user's eye movements without a camera, and use those movements to control electronic devices such as mobile phones and portable music players. DoCoMo started working on this idea back in 2008 by adapting an electrooculogram (EOG), a medical device used for measuring eye response, to their purposes. An EOG works on the principle that the human cornea has a positive electrical charge. As the user looks to the left or right, the charge shifts in the space between the user's ears – a change that can be easily detected by appropriate sensors. Read More
As some readers may recall, back in April a certain prototype iPhone was “forgotten” in a bar, and ended up being prematurely splashed all over the Internet. Well, that whole nasty business would likely never have happened, if only that phone’s owner had been using a Bringrr. A little device that plugs into your car’s power outlet/cigarette lighter, the Bringrr gets paired up with your cell phone, then searches for that phone whenever the car is started. If it makes a connection, meaning that the phone is in the car, it will flash blue and emit a confirming beep. If it can’t find the phone, however, it will flash red and emit a tone that pretty much says, “Hey Dummy, you forgot your phone.” Read More
Hands-free calling using Bluetooth earpieces has become - shall we say - controversial over the years, as we've all seen that annoying guy at Starbucks trying to close the deal as he orders his cappuccino. But the latest receiver from Tokyo Flash, the Kisai Escape C, might just have enough features to offset the Bluetooth douche-factor. Read More
It’s no secret that a distracted driver is a hazardous one. In-car mobile phone safety technology manufacturer Zoomsafer has announced an extension of its existing software named VoiceMate that allows drivers to audibly send and receive emails and text messages while keeping their attention focused on the road ahead. Read More
In addition to its recent 7-year / 150,000km warranty announcement, Kia has created further interest with the showing of its UVO in-car voice and touch activated communication and entertainment system. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, the system offers users an easy to use interactive hands-free alternative that uses speech recognition for making and taking calls, sending text messages and managing in-car music. Featuring a 4.3” full color touchscreen display and built-in 1GB storage with the ability to rip CD’s and MP3’s onto the system’s “Jukebox”, the open platform UVO system also doubles as a rear view camera when the vehicle is in reverse. Read More
The days of a Universal Translator like the one that made chatting between alien species a non-issue in Star Trek might be some way off yet. But a new device from NEC is definitely a step in the right direction for those of us on planet Earth looking for a way to communicate with other language speakers that doesn’t involve a human translator or a well-thumbed phrase book. The prototype device called a “Tele Scouter” is a glasses type display that translates the foreign language being spoken by a partner and projects the translation onto a tiny retinal display. Read More