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Toyota Unveils Voice-Controlled Infotainment System

1/04/2011 09:03:00 AM Eastern
Las Vegas - Toyota is using International CES to demonstrate voice-controlled infotainment systems that will compete with Ford's Sync system.

The automaker plans to demonstrate its Entune Infotainment System here at CES and will make it available in select vehicles later this year.

The system connects via USB to portable media players and iPhones to play back stored music and charge the devices. The system uses Bluetooth to connect to cellular smartphones and feature phones to control multiple apps loaded onto the phones, including Internet radio apps.

The system will be compatible with a majority of smartphones and feature phones, the company said. Entune-enabled versions of apps will be available for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry smartphones as well as for select feature phones.

Entune, which marks Toyota's entry into the HD Radio market, also features HD Radio iTunes Tagging, an optional navigation system, XM satellite radio, and customizable real-time traffic, fuel prices, weather, stocks, sports, and news. The data is delivered primarily by XM for head units with factory-installed navigation, but some vehicle models will deliver such data via Bluetooth-connected cellphone.

All features will eventually be controlled from a conversational voice-recognition system said to eliminate the need to memorize thousands of voice commands, allow drivers to speak naturally, and let motorists focus more on their driving.

The system is upgradable to ensure that it can "evolve and adapt" like a cellphone, the company noted.

The system will control Pandora and iHeartradio Internet-radio apps loaded on cellphones to stream the services through the vehicle's sound system. Pandora lets users create personalized radio stations. iHeartradio streams more than 750 Clear Channel-owned terrestrial radio stations, plus some Internet-only stations, over the cellular airwaves to a phone.

Other Entune-enabled cellphone apps include the Bing search engine, which searches more than 16 million updated points of interest; Open Table, which lets users make reservations at 14,000 restaurants, and MovieTickets.com, where users can buy movie tickets and read reviews. All destinations selected through the apps will be downloaded to the vehicle's navigation system to deliver turn-by-turn route guidance. The apps can be controlled via voice and via the car's head unit.
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