By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
A start-up company called Dash Navigation will unveil this month one of the first two-way portable navigation systems designed for the car.
The company plans to offer a GPS/information appliance equipped with cellular and Wi-Fi for “always connected” access to information on the Internet.
Company CEO Paul Lego says the product and service will not only offer standard turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic, but information such as the traffic speed of the routes nearby. It not only lets a user know there is a gas station down the road, but the price of gas; and not only tells where there's a movie theater, but what is playing.
The company, led by numerous technology veterans from companies including XM Satellite Radio, General Electric, RealNetworks, Logitech and Etak, said it plans to create a network of drivers that report on traffic speed The data is then fed to a central service which broadcasts it to the drivers in the Dash “community.”
Robert Acker, senior VP marketing, who served as VP marketing and VP of product development at XM from launch to 2004, said that Dash hopes to accomplish the above “with an interface that works at 55 miles an hour.”
The product and service is expected to launch in California in the first quarter of 2007 followed by a national launch next summer. Further product details are being kept under wraps until Sept. 26 at the DEMOfall show in San Diego. Presently, Dash Navigation is testing 50 units in the San Francisco area, soon to expand to a volume beta test of 300 units, said Lego
Lego noted the company is aiming at mass market pricing and is “well aware” of the current prices of portable GPS devices, with some models at $300 and below.
“We're creating a device that physically looks like a portable navigation device, but the difference between what we're doing … is this is an always connected, information appliance in your car,” he said. Acker added, “Think of all the information out there on the Internet that you could use if you only it had while you were in the car.”
The company noted, however, that the first-generation product will not offer e-mail because of driver safety.
Dash Navigation said it has been in operation since 2003 and has 44 employees, 35 of which are engineers or in positions that are engineering related. Last December, Dash closed a round of funding for $5 million each from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. The former has funded such ventures as AOL, Amazon.com and Google. The latter has funded Cisco, Yahoo! Apple, Oracle and also Google. Seed funding was provided by Skymoon Ventures.
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