By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Real-time traffic service — traffic updates delivered approximately every few minutes to a navigation system — is showing promise as a new frontier in navigation, as close to 10 companies demonstrated new products or prototypes, at International CES this month.
Audiovox announced at CES that it has partnered with Clear Channel Communications, Tele-Atlas and Siemans to offer a $99 real-time traffic receiver that will work with two of its navigation systems. As in other real-time traffic systems, icons representing traffic incidents appear on a route map. The user can click on the icons to get more detailed traffic reports and opt to reroute around an incident.
Audiovox said it chose Clear Channel's new system, first announced at CES, over XM's current NavTraffic system because Clear Channel delivers data for 48 markets, compared with XM's 20 markets. In addition, said Audiovox's national sales manager for Prestige Audio/navigation Fred Roetker, the Clear Channel system is cheaper for those who are not current XM subscribers. “We're addressing 130 million people in over 40 markets. XM has 3.2 million customers,” Roetker said.
XM's NavTraffic service requires that a user be a current XM subscriber (for $9.99 a month) and pay an additional $3.99 a month for the traffic updates. Audiovox is charging $4.99 a month but requires users to buy one or two years of service up front, at $59.90 for a year or $95.90 for two. The first three months of service will be free, said Audiovox.
XM was first out of the gate in nationwide real-time traffic when it began offering traffic updates to a factory Acura RL navigation system last fall.
Pioneer announced in November it would join the XM camp, and XM announced at CES that Alpine may offer an XM NavTraffic receiver as well.
Pioneer will deliver this spring a $350 NavTraffic receiver to work with two of its new navigation units, the AVIC-N2 and AVIC-D1. The D1, a stripped-down version of last year's AVIC-N1, without DVD playback, is expected to sell in the $1,700 to $1,800 range but no price has been officially determined. The company's new AVIC-N2, with DVD playback and built-in accelerometer and other performance gauges, is expected to ship in March or April at a suggested price of $2,200.
Alpine said it would ship a navigation unit in June (NVE-N8772A) that can receive XM NavTraffic updates through a separate NavTraffic receiver. However, at CES Alpine said it is possible the NVE-N8772A could receive traffic updates from a Sirius traffic service as well, or possibly the Sirius service exclusively. “We're not announcing whether it will be XM or Sirius traffic. It might work with both.” In either case, the traffic updates would be issued every three minutes, said a spokesman.
Sirius' real-time traffic service is expected to launch later this year. Sirius told TWICE that its service will cover between 20 and 25 markets and will be offered by one or two aftermarket car stereo companies. Kenwood said it is looking into offering the Sirius service.
By next year, Larry Pesce, senior VP of product development and strategic planning, said Sirius real-time traffic will be available in certain new automobiles and will broaden its reach to 30 to 35 markets, expanding to 50 markets by 2007.
Audiovox said it receives Clear Channel's traffic reports through an RDS radio receiver. The reports are aggregated data from traffic reports, collected by helicopter and road sensors and cameras, sent to Clear Channel's 1,200 radio stations around the country.
IBiquity, however, said Clear Channel plans to migrate its traffic service to HD Radio as soon as the FCC grants it permission, which could happen in the first quarter this year, according to iBiquity VP advanced services Joe D'Angelo. Clear Channel as well as other radio broadcasters could offer real-time traffic services via HD radio as early as late this year, he said. At iBiquity's booth both Visteon and Panasonic demonstrated real-time traffic over HD Radio.
D'Angelo said the HD radio system will also be able to display advanced points of interest information (POIs) such as real-time gas prices, hotel availability and restaurant locations with restaurant reviews. The HD Radio system would carry data faster than an RDS system which sends data at 120 baud compared with HD Radio's rate of 10 to 12 kbits, D'Angelo added.
Cobra is also showing here at CES a prototype real-time traffic receiver that works with a portable navigation unit with a built-in screen. Cobra is not saying which real-time service it will use, but hopes the product will ship early in the second half.
At present, the car companies are furthering the adoption of XM NavTraffic with General Motors expected to offer it on the Cadillac CTS this spring.
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