New York - Palm and Delphi Automotive Systems today reported that they have taken a minority stake in and will partner with a new start up firm called MobileAria to bring wireless Internet services to automobiles.
The San Jose, Calif. -based MobileAria is calling itself a systems integrator whose service will act as a nexus for a variety of Palm-based Internet applications that will work in conjunction with a cell phone and the Delphi Communiport in-car docking station to bring email and Internet services into the car. For safety reasons these will be accessed via a voice recognition application so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel. The initial MobileAria service will be offered starting in the second quarter of 2001 and will work with the Palm V and several models of Ericsson cell phones. Eventually the entire Palm line and additional cell phone vendors will be added.
Pricing for the MobileAria service was not disclosed, but company executives said they will offer a variety of service plans geared toward different consumer needs. The service and hardware components also will be offered through by automakers through OEM arrangements.
The Communiport docking station will start shipping to computer and consumer electronic retailers, as well as, car dealers in December. The Communiport, which is powered by a 32-bit processor and has internal flash memory, does not require professional installation and is powered through a car's cigarette lighter. The mount holds the Palm in a hot-sync cradle and the cell phone and is wired into the car's audio system. The docking station is functional without the MobileAria service, but only allows consumers to access information previously downloaded onto their Palm or use their cell phones in a hands free fashion. Pricing for the Communiport has not been set.