By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Cypress, Calif. – Clarion added hands-free control of Facebook and Twitter to its transportable Next Gate in-vehicle iPhone controller, which can be added to any vehicle.
The $269-suggested iPhone controller uses a 7-inch WVGA touchscreen to control iPhone music playback and control compatible iPhone apps. The compatible apps display a user interface and graphics on the touchscreen.
Next Gate plugs into a car’s power port for power, connects to an iPhone 4 or 4S via the phone’s 30-pin connector, mounts on the windshield of any vehicle, and plays back audio through an embedded speaker or through any car stereo system with 3.5mm aux-in jack. The device also charges connected iPhones, doubles as a hands-free Bluetooth speakerphone, and enables voice dialing and voice activation of iPhone features.
With the launch of the Next Gate-optimized Facebook and Twitter apps, called FB4car and Tweet4car, drivers are able to update their Facebook status and reply to tweets via voice through the use of Nuance’s Vlingo speech-to-text conversions technology. With Vlingo’s text-to-speech technology, drivers hear friends’ posts without looking at the Next Gate screen.
Next Gate requires the installation of Clarion’s free Smart Access app manager, which also enables compatible third-party iPhone apps to be displayed on, and controlled from, Next Gate.
Compatible apps include the TuneIn and Pandora Internet radio apps, Inrix Traffic, Odyssey turn-by-turn navigation app and Vlingo. Vlingo is a voice-recognition app with speech-to-text capabilities, enabling Next Gate to read aloud text messages, emails and news feeds. Vlingo also enables users to make phone calls via speech recognition.
Clarion plans additional compatible apps for Next Gate, which is available at Amazon, Best Buy.com and Crutchfield.
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