Google’s Nexus One calls in; the International Consumer Electronics Show kicks off; and more…

Google’s Nexus One calls in; the International Consumer Electronics Show kicks off; and more…

“There is an opportunity to make some margin on the unit sales, but that’s not the objective here,” said Andy Rubin, a vice president of engineering in charge of the Android technology, who spoke at a press conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. “Our primary business is advertising.”

Nonetheless, the company is making a full marketing push for the Nexus One, which it has dubbed a “superphone.” The phone can take pictures and surf the Web like an iPhone, but also offers new features like a voice-enabled text device that allows users to compose an e-mail by speaking into the phone rather than typing with their thumbs. The Nexus One is currently on sale exclusively through Google’s online store. Retail price is $529 unlocked or $179 conjoined with a two-year calling plan from T-Mobile. Google says the phone will be available on Verizon Wireless for US customers and on Vodafone for European customers by mid-2010.

Google also was active this week on the Google Maps front. They dropped Tele Atlas, which previously had powered Google turn-by-turn navigation, in favor of the company’s own navigation system, which will be offered free on Android phones. Following the announcement, Garmin stock prices plunged 16% and TomTom stock prices plummeted 21%. Technology experts, electronics gurus, and automotive enthusiasts gathered at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The star of the show is likely to be 3-D television. DirecTV is expected to announce a suite of its own 3-D channels, while all major television manufacturers will introduce 3-D televisions and compatible Blu-ray DVD players. The 3-D sets will likely start at around $2,000 and will include two pairs of “Active” glasses. In the not so distant future, say industry experts, kids very well may be watching 3-D TVs in the back of minivans.

Automotive supplier Continental plans to debut at the show its AutoLinQ Connected Services Platform, which provides vehicle owners with a seamless stream of information about their vehicle. While at home, vehicle owners with AutoLinQ can access real-time vehicle status or remote diagnostic information from an account on their laptop. While on the road, they can access real-time location-based information and content relevant to the driving situation from their mobile device or Android-based head unit. Continental will release a software development kit in the first quarter of 2010 and an application store in the second half of the year.

Continental also will unveil its Multi Media Platform, which utilizes the Windows Embedded Auto software platform to connect drivers seamlessly to the people, information, and entertainment they care about while on the road. The Multi Media Platform is a scalable hardware solution that includes radio, CD/DVD player, navigation, and many additional interfaces to connect consumer electronic devices.

“A main area of focus for the employees in Continental’s Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit is to work with our customers to bring advanced consumer electronic features to all vehicle segments, including small and more affordable cars,” says Kieran O’Sullivan, executive vice president of Continental’s Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit. “Continental’s MMP is an ideal solution because it has been designed to provide automakers with a range of flexibility, so they can quickly and easily integrate a variety of features into their vehicle fleet.”

WirelessCar has been selected to be the telematics service provider for BMW in North America. WirelessCar will deploy the Next Generation Telematics Protocol to deliver services in new models from mid-2010 and also include a migration path for BMW’s legacy applications currently operating in the United States and Canada. WirelessCar was previously selected as the telematics service provider for BMW in Europe.

A day before the Consumer Electronics Show, telematics industry executives attended a separate Consumer Telematics Show at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, where speakers included Kal Mos of Mercedes-Benz, Partha Goswami of General Motors, Francis Dance of BMW, and Mark Scalf of Ford Motor Company. One attendee, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), shared information about an innovative technological system that they’re testing in Detroit this month that will help protect drivers from being surprised by black ice, fog, and other hazardous weather conditions.

The prototype system is designed to gather detailed information about weather and road conditions from moving vehicles. Within about a decade, it should enable motor vehicles equipped with wireless technology to transmit automated updates about local conditions to a central database, which will then relay alerts to other drivers in the area. “The goal is to reduce crashes, injuries, and deaths by getting drivers the information they need about nearby hazards,” says Sheldon Drobot, the NCAR program manager in charge of the project. “The system will tell drivers what they can expect to run into in the next few seconds and minutes, giving them a critical chance to slow down or take other action.”

NCAR's road weather system is part of IntelliDrive, a national initiative overseen by the Department of Transportation to use new technologies to make driving safer and improve mobility. Officials envision that, over the next 10 years, motor vehicles will begin to automatically communicate with each other and central databases, alerting drivers to threats that range from adverse road conditions to nearby vehicles that are moving erratically or running a red light.

Andrew Tolve

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