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October 04, 2006

FJ Car Computer update and more

Whether you care about car computers or not, there may be something interesting for you in this post.  A couple of days ago I installed the latest StreetDeck software on my Infill T3 car computer.  Yesterday (I'm back now) I had to drive to the airport for a quick customer visit, so it was my first chance to experience the new features.  It’s still in beta, but – Wow!

I have an always-on high-speed Internet connection using a Kyocera KR1 Mobile Router in the FJ Cruiser, with a Verizon EVDO card plugged into it.  Not only does the car computer get high-speed Internet access, but so can anyone else who’s nearby or wants to plug into one of the four Ethernet ports.   When I got to my destination today, I parked, pulled out my laptop and within seconds it was connected wirelessly too.  I was able to answer and sync my email, check something on the web, IM a question to someone back at the office and within five minutes I was ready to walk to my gate.  I could have done all of that on the car computer, but I did it on my laptop so that it would be up to date for the trip.

Speaking of my laptop, I wrote a little Vista Gadget this weekend to tell me at a glance if I have any new voice mails or missed calls.

As you can see, no one wanted to talk to me today.

Here’s what it looks like if I have voice mails or missed calls in my inbox.

If you are running Vista and you can get your voice mail in your Outlook client (or you want to), email me and I’ll send you a copy of the gadget to play with.

One of the new features that was added to the StreetDeck car computer software was Internet Radio, using the Yahoo LAUNCHcast player.  Except for a few places where I lost my wireless signal, I listened to streaming radio all the way to the airport.  Yahoo has over 200 channels available, but in case that isn’t enough, you can create your own channel.  As you listen, it learns what you like and then it inserts new artists into the stream that you might like.  You can easily rate the new songs and artists so that you’ll get more, less, or none of the new stuff in the future.  It makes me wonder what the future of paid satellite radio is going to be.

The wizards at StreetDeck also added an option to turn on Virtual Earth on the navigation screen, which means satellite images are overlaid on the GPS mapping software.

This is just the beginning of something interesting I think.  Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to go to Starbucks.com and install an overlay for all of the Starbucks along my route.  Maybe I touch the Starbucks icon on the screen and it routes me there and then sends a coupon to my phone for fifty cents off.  (Click the photo of the map to go to mp3car.com)

Same thing for my bank – I’ll drive out of my way to use one of my bank’s ATMs and save a buck or two on the transaction fee.  It should be easy to add that overlay to my car computer’s GPS screen.

My FJ Cruiser started out as a concept car that Toyota created to show what a modern-day Land Cruiser might look like.  It was such a big hit at the car shows that they rushed it to production with very few changes.  I guess that’s what I’m doing – playing with communications and mobility concepts in my spare time, thinking about what might really be practical in the near future.  I’m having a great time too!

I've created a "Friends of the FJ Car Computer Project" to acknowledge the help I've received.  A lot of people have contributed so far, but this group has made a big diffence.  Thanks!

Update to the Update:  Driving home from the airport tonight - 45 minutes through a rural part of Colorado North of Denver - the Internet Radio skipped three times when I first started out from the airport, but only for a couple of seconds and then it never misssed a beat.  Amazing.

October 4, 2006 | Permalink


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The new Kyocera KR2 is now shipping. The KR2 replaces the venerable KR1 and improves upon it by using a WiFi N radio and adding an expresscard slot.

Much more info in our full Kyocera KR2 Router Review at http://www.EVDOinfo.com/KR2

Posted by: EVDOinfo | Mar 14, 2008 10:49:41 PM