Auto electronics, sat nav

Sony Adds XAV-AX200, MEX-GS820BT Head Units

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Sony Adds XAV-AX200, MEX-GS820BT Head Units

Sony announces a pair of in-auto audio systems-- the XAV-AX200 DVD receiver and the top-of-the-line MEX-GS820BT, both offering improved smartphone connectivity and a user-friendly UI.

The XAV-AX200 is a sequel to the XAV-AX100. It features the same Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for integration with a wide range of smartphones, together with a 6.4-inch touchscreen. Also included are a DVD player, SiriusXM connectivity and external 3-camera input allowing passengers to view images from up to 3 connected cameras (one reverse view and two manually chosen cameras).

On the audio side, a high-voltage pre-out lessens distortion with the built-in 4-channel 55W amplifier, while a 10-band equaliser with 10 presents provides easy frequency adjustments. FLAC audio compatibility is included via USB, while control comes through configurable steering wheel input covering general command protocol.

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A 360-Degree Dashcam for Auto Protection

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A 360-Degree Dashcam for Auto Protection

Dashcam maker Waylens announces the Secure360-- a dashcam that, as the name might suggest, shoots 360-degree photos and videos for a more full view of car and its surroundings.

However, what makes the Secure360 interesting is its ability to monitor the car even when no one is in it. Essentially it acts as a security camera, constantlly taking video. Users can livestream video via smartphone app, and it even features an embedded accelerometer and gyroscope to detect "events" and alert users in case anyone tries to attack or steal the car.

In addition, it also uploads video to the cloud via 4G connectivity for extra security. For customers not wanting such a level of protection Waylens also offers a wifi-only version of the Secure360-- making a 360-degree dashcam designed for use during driving.

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Alpine Ships iLX-107 CarPlay Receiver

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Alpine Ships iLX-107 CarPlay Receiver

Alpine presents the iLX-107-- a first aftermarket CarPlay receiver featuring AirPlay over wifi, meaning one can pair with their iPhone without need for a Lightning cable.

First seen back at CES 2017, the iLX-107 offers a 7-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen with LED backlighting. It allows touch and Siri voice control, pairs with iPhone 5 or later smartphones, and receives calls, reads text messages, plays music and provides traffic directions.

The company promises wireless connectivity does not cause a discernible drain on battery. The receiver uses Bluetooth to trigger a change over to 5GHz wifi, and even routes call audio over wifi. In addition, it also controls add-on car accessories such as lights, cameras and truck bed covers.

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Wireless iPhone Charging on BMW iDrive

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Wireless iPhone Charging on BMW iDrive

Wireless charging specialist Aircharge announces a means to bring its technology to the iPhones paired with the BMW iDrive ecosystem-- the exclusive Wireless Charging Case.

First seen in the 2017 BMW 5 Series, iDrive is a means to integrate the iPhone in BMW vehicle systems, allowing users to control the smartphone via either in-auto display, iDrive Touch Controller, voice commands or gestures. Connectivity is handled via Bluetooth, bringing about the need for a charging solution.

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Harman Implements Wireless CarPlay

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Harman Implements Wireless CarPlay

Harman announces "a first for the connected car industry"-- the implementation of Apple CarPlay in-car infotainment systems through wireless connection.

The system uses both Bluetooth and wifi, with Bluetooth handling the connection to the iPhone while wifi takes care of data transfers. Harman adds the system provides flexibility between native and CarPlay Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), and allows the simultaneous operation of head unit functionality and CarPlay navigation.

CarPlay provides the control of various iPhone functions, including calls, music playback, mobile office and navigation, through the car display. It also adds voice-based controls via Siri.

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Logi ZeroTouch Gets Alexa

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Logi ZeroTouch Gets Alexa

The Logi ZeroTouch hands-free auto solution gets a second voice control option through the integration of Alexa, the Amazon take on voice-powered assistants.

Alexa integration also brings more functionality-- as well as sending texts and telling GPS directions, Alexa can answer questions, control connected devices and even allow one to make a spot of online shopping while driving. In addition the ZeroTouch app can send and read emails and accept calendar invitations.

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Adding AI to Cars With Dashbot

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Adding AI to Cars With Dashbot

Next Thing announces a simple way to add hands-free smarts to any car-- Dashbot, a voice-controlled AI assistant devices complete with a red LED display reminiscent of KITT from TV's Knight Rider.

The Dashbot pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, and like other connected auto platforms it handles tasks such as text messaging, music control and Google Maps directions. It connects with cars through 3.5mm aux jack, and sips power via either USB or standard 12V cigarette lighter. For customers driving older vehicles Next Thing even offers a "Retro pack," with a tape deck input and FM transmitter.

On the voice control front it also features support for Alexa, the Amazon voice control assistant. An open API allows developers to add compatibility with any number of apps and services, and the Dashbot ships with support for a number of music streaming services, including Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play Music and Apple Music, among others.

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Apple Moving Auto Efforts to AR?

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Apple Moving Auto Efforts to AR?

According to well connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo Apple is shifting gears in its much rumoured automotive project-- the company is now supposedly working on an "autonomous driving system" complete with augmeted reality.

As seen in a report obtained by MacRumors, such a system will support augmented reality to provide an "innovative user experience."

"All of Apple’s past successes were related to human-machine interfaces, such as mouse for Mac, click wheel for iPod, and multi-touch for iPhone and iPad," Ming-Chi Kuo writes. "Assuming Apple successfully develops AR, we predict the firm will enjoy the following competitive advantages: (1) redefining existing key products and leading competitors by 3 to 5 years. For instance, this could happen for iPhone, iPad and Mac; (2) eliminating obstacles of Apple Watch and Apple TV by offering an innovative user experience; and (3) entering new business fields, such as autonomous driving system."

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Navdy Ships Heads Up Display

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Navdy Ships Heads Up Display

Navdy ships its Heads Up Display (HUD)-- a 3rd party means of adding smartphone-powered smarts to automobile dashboards through the clever projection.

The result of a 2014 Kickstarter campaign, the Navdy unit is a portable device users stick to their dash. It pairs with smartphones and a companion app and projects full-colour vehicle gauges, turn-by-turn navigation, music control, messages and call notifications on a see-through shield attached on the windscreen, just over the hood of the car.

The device carries an own GPS readio to boost the accuracy of navigation, together with an accelerometer. Connection to the car comes through OBDII port, making it compatible with most vehicles released after 1996 (but not with any electric vehicles, alas). Users can configure the Navdy to either read out text aloud, display text or do both, and alerts can be simply dismissed through either hand gesture or a scroll wheel hardware accessory attached to the steering wheel.

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A Toyoto Robot Companion for the Car

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A Toyoto Robot Companion for the Car

Toyota unveils an unusual auto gadget promising to provide company on lonely drives-- the Kirobo Mini, a smartphone-connected robot small enough to sit in the cup holder.

The Kirobo Mini is a miniature version of Kirobo, the Toyota-developed robot that was sent to space in 2013 together with Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to command the International Space Station. Standing all of 10cm tall, the Kirobo Mini can talk to users in a cutesy high-pitched voice, blink its oversized eyes, make gestures with its stubby arms and legs and supposedly respond to emotions.

"He wobbles a bit, and this is meant to emulate a seated baby, which hasn't fully developed the skills to balance itself," chief design engineer Fuminori Kataoka tells Reuters. "This vulnerability is meant to invoke an emotional connection."

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Sony Intros CarPlay-Compatible Auto Audio

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Sony Intros CarPlay-Compatible Auto Audio

Sony announces the XAV-AX100-- the first aftermarket in-car audio system from the company featuring connectivity with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, providing "everything you need" for long car journeys.

CarPlay and Android Auto provide access to smartphone-powered GPS, music control, phone calls, text messages and voice control of various functions for safe and distraction-free in-auto entertainment. The system also includes a touchscreen promising "lighter" touch operation and improved visibility in both darkness and glaring sunshine.

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