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Clarion Readies iPhone Controller, Telematics


Car audio supplier Clarion of Cypress,
Calif., is launching a transportable windshieldmounted
iPhone controller that uses a 7-inch WVGA
touchscreen to control iPhone music playback and select
compatible iPhone apps.

The compatible apps, which include two Internet radio
apps and a navigation app, will also display their user interface
and graphics on the touchscreen.

Separately, the company said it would enter the telematics
market with services for aftermarket in-dash head
units and OEM infotainment systems.

The iPhone controller is the $269-suggested Next
Gate, which plugs into a car’s power port for power,
connects to an iPhone 4 or 4S via the phone’s 30-pin
connector, mounts on the windshield of any vehicle,
and plays back audio through an embedded speaker or
through any car stereo system with 3.5mm aux in jack.
The device also charges connected iPhones, doubles
as a hands-free Bluetooth speakerphone, and enables
voice dialing and voice activation of iPhone features.

Next Gate, unveiled on the eve of the CTIA convention
at a Show Stoppers event, will be available June 1 at
select major retailers.

Next Gate requires the installation of Clarion’s Smart
Access app manager on an iPhone. That app, available
as a free download in the iTunes store, manages iPhone
communications with Next Gate and enables compatible
third-party iPhone-downloaded apps to be displayed
on, and controlled from, Next Gate. Compatible apps include
the TuneIn and Pandora Internet radio apps, Inrix
Traffic, Odyssey turn-by-turn navigation app and Vlingo.
Additional compatible apps are planned. Users would be
notified of new apps when they launch the Smart Access
app manager, which would also list all compatible apps
available for download.

Vlingo is a voice-recognition app with speech-to-text
capabilities, enabling Next Gate to read aloud text messages,
emails, social-media feeds and news feeds. Vlingo
also enables users to make phone calls via speech

In detailing its telematics plans, Clarion said it will
launch its Smart Access Cloud Telematics Service in
June in North America and Japan and roll it out elsewhere
in stages. The service will work with new OEM infotainment
systems and car-aftermarket products.

The telematics service will enable dashboard control
of smartphone apps, enable emergency calling, and
deliver real-time information from a variety of sources,
including FM RDS, satellite radio or HD Radio. For automakers
and potentially for aftermarket products that
integrate with a vehicle’s OEM databus, the services
will also include vehicle relational management system
(VRMS) services for vehicle maintenance and safety
management, Clarion said.