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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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