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Parrot and Funkwerk Upgrade Bluetooth Kits

11/06/2008 03:00:00 PM Eastern

Las Vegas — New advanced Bluetooth kits were introduced at the SEMA Show by Parrot and Funkwerk Americas.  

Parrot’s new MKi line offers “user independent” voice recognition for the first time from Parrot, eliminating the need to voice train the unit. The Bluetooth hands-free kits are also the first to receive Works with iPhone and Made for iPod logos, the company said.

The devices can stream music via stereo Bluetooth from an iPod, iPhone, USB drive or other devices through the car’s audio system, Parrot said.

The MKi Bluetooth kits also talk back to the user via “text to speech” to confirm contact names, another Parrot first.

Mike Hedge, Parrot’s marketing VP, claimed the kits are designed “so your mom can use them.” The user pairs his phone with the unit and then the phonebook automatically uploads. The user can say “Call Jane” and the unit will dial Jane if she is in the phone book. However, it cannot use voice recognition to dial by digits.

The kits include a display, a black box, a microphone and a remote control and must be professionally installed.

The MKi9100 has a two-color display at $249 and the MKi9200 has a larger full-color display with an SD card slot at $299. Both ship in the fourth quarter.

A portable version of the kits, called the MiniKit Slim also uses the same voice-engine technology. It can clip to a sun visor for up to 10 hours of hands-free talktime and will ship in the fourth quarter at $99.99. 

Funkwerk displayed at SEMA two of the first Bluetooth kits to read aloud text messages from a cellphone using text-to-speech.

The Ego Flash and Ego Look both read back text messages in addition to offering  “user independent” voice recognition for dialing by name and by digits.

The Ego Flash Bluetooth kit has a 1.6-inch display and also adds audio streaming from an iPod or MP3 device at $243. The EGO Look has similar features with a 2.2-inch display at $351.

Also Funkwerks improved its basic portable model, the EGO cup that sits in a cup holder and is powered by a cigarette lighter for hands-free calling from a Bluetooth phone. The device has been upgraded to include an FM transmitter to play music from a phone through the car’s sound system. It will ship at the end of the month at a suggested retail of $149.

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