Dash Unveils 'Always On' Online Portable GPS Model

By Amy Gilroy On Oct 9 2006 - 6:00am

Dash Navigation revealed details of the industry's first portable GPS device with always-on two-way cellular connection.

At the DEMOfall show here, Dash showed Dash Express, due next year with always-on GSM/GPRS cellular-data connection that gives it the ability to double as a mobile Internet appliance.

The always-on connection enables Dash Express to perform Google searches from the car, find nearby gas stations and see their posted gas prices, locate the nearest retailer for almost any type of product, get regular map updates, and get information on traffic speeds on area roadways.

Dash will notify drivers of road speeds on up to three possible routes for each destination, allowing drivers to choose the fastest route. It will get its road-speed information from other area Dash users, whose units transmit information on their cars' route and speed to a central service. Dash believes around 2,000 users in a market will enable the Dash Network Traffic feature to reach its potential, but until then, each Dash will rely on an internal database of historic traffic flow data for all major roads.

Dash seamlessly switches to Wi-Fi where available.

Dash formally unveiled the device after announcing an overview of the company's plans. (See TWICE, Sept. 11, p. 66).

Dash has not yet announced its cellular partner, but Klein noted that all service bills will be issued by Dash. He said the cost of the service is expected to be similar to that of satellite radio.

Dash Express pricing is expected to fall in the midrange of the portable navigation market at launch time, which is planned for the first quarter in California. A national rollout it expected to follow in the summer of 2007.

Klein said if the product were to launch today, it would sell for $600 to $800, reflecting the current mid-to-high price range for portable GPS.

As an Internet appliance, it will enable drivers to locate the nearest retailer for almost any product, or find which local restaurants serve “fajitas” or other menu items, said senior marketing director Eric Klein. The Express also provides gas prices at local stations, movie listings, restaurant reviews and weather updates.

Because it “knows” road speeds on various routes, it can offer a superior real-time traffic service, said Klein. “Because we know real flow data, we know if you are approaching a traffic incident but still are able to go 15 miles an hour. We know that you are still moving, and when we do all the calculations, this is still the best way to go. No other device can figure that out.”

Dash claims that one of the most common complaints of GPS owners after six months of product use is that their unit is out of date because of construction on new roads or new housing developments. Map upgrades can cost $100, said Klein noting that the Dash unit will be upgraded continually.

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