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Delphi, Palm Show Mobile Combo Unit

Delphi Automotive Systems and Palm, Inc., today announced an initiative to develop new multimedia products and services for vehicles. The centerpiece is Delphi’s prototype of the Communiport Mobile Productivity Center, or MPC, that will dock and synchronize with a Palm V handheld using Palm’s HotSync technology. This will allow drivers access to Palm content while in a vehicle.

Delphi said it expects to first sell the MPC through traditional retail channels along with next-generation models through automotive aftermarket and OE channels. The system is designed to be used hands-free through voice recognition and a text-to-speech engine to retrieve and load information on the Palm handheld.

The companies say they are planning to coordinate the development of new content delivery and services for customers using the Delphi/Palm system. Customers will be able to access currently running Palm.Net services, which include news and other information, e-mail and Web access as well as other new vehicle value-added services.

As currently planned, the MPC will fit into a vehicle cup holder and plug into a standard 12-volt source, such as a cigarette lighter.

“First, the alliance leverages the strong market position held by Palm for handheld computing devices and the broad portfolio of emerging mobile multimedia products and technologies at Delphi,” said Dave Wohleen, president of Delphi’s Electronics & Mobile Communication sector. “Second, it joins industry leaders in connectivity, content and automotive mobile multimedia to support consumer demand for ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ communication and information. And third, the alliance is focused on providing one-stop, end-to-end solutions to consumers by providing hardware, software and content services.”

“Our customers rely on Palm handhelds for mobile access to important information – from appointments and phone numbers to critical business-specific applications,” said Barry Cottle, chief operating officer of Wireless Internet Solutions for Palm. “By working with Delphi … we will provide our customers with safer access to the content on their handheld(s) and the ability to update it while driving.”

The Delphi/Palm system will include Palm’s HotSync technology, to transfer data between the Palm handheld and the docking station, and Delphi’s voice technologies so users may listen to stored data through text-to-speech feedback and input data into their Palm handheld through voice commands.

With the Delphi/Palm system, users will be able to ask their Palm handheld to:

  • Download and read e-mail messages, scheduled appointments, memos and other stored information;
  • Dictate and send electronic mail;
  • Record new appointments and memos;
  • Download and read simple Internet text, including directions, breaking news, stock quotes, and sports scores.
  • Request that a phone number recorded in the Palm handheld be dialed through Delphi’s hands-free phone, as part of Delphi’s integrated Communiport technologies.

“As with all of our Communiport technologies, we are very focused on the vehicle environment,” Wohleen said. “We are designing the Delphi/Palm system so that drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. We are also enhancing the ownership experience for Palm handheld owners, who are used to being able to access their information at all times.”

The Mobile Productivity Center will be available before the end of 2000. Pricing information was not announced.