Parrot makes 'smart' car radio for Internet Age

January 5, 2011
Directions are shown on a GPS unit mounted in a car travelling along Kaiserdamm in Berlin 2010. French mobile technology firm Parrot on Tuesday showed off a "smart" car radio that can find cheap fuel, free parking, and speed traps while taking music requests and placing phone calls.

French mobile technology firm Parrot on Tuesday showed off a "smart" car radio that can find cheap fuel, free parking, and speed traps while taking music requests and placing phone calls.

The Asteroid in-dash receiver will be available in Europe by the end of March and the company is working to get it to the United States by the middle of this year, according to project manager Hocine Belkhoudja.

Parrot is in Las Vegas to show off Asteroid at a major that officially opens on Thursday.

Asteroid has USB ports for MP3 players, GPS devices, and the types of 3G network wireless Internet service keys that people use for laptop computers.

The 3G keys link the radios to the Web, enabling applications to access online services or data and allowing motorists to use the radio to make hands-free telephone calls, according to Belkhoudja.

"You can listen to all the in the world on the Web," he said. "You can search for coffee or restaurants nearby, gas stations with the lowest prices or free parking."

The radios can also provide maps and driving routes.

Parrot tailored a version of open-source Android mobile for Asteroid to handle a host of software applications.

Music features on the radios include taking spoken requests for specific songs or artists, with the device scouring connected devices and the Internet for tunes.

Parrot did not reveal the price it would charge, but Belkhoudja promised it would be "very impressive."

Parrot also demonstrated a touch-screen, dash-mounted version of Asteroid that it is working on as a "next step" but would not discuss when it might come to market.

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