10/26/2007 3:42:00 PM
Car manufacturer Audi has provided an impressive glimpse into the not-too-distant future by showcasing an innovative mobile carphone at the Tokyo Motor Show.
The removable handset offers an array of functions, including a high-tech security unit, a navigation system, an MP3 player, a car locator and it will even be able to turn the heating on from the comfort of the user's home.
The futuristic handset, which Audi says could be available as early as 2009, provides unprecedented space efficiency to the vehicle's interior and gives the driver control of the car's functions without needing to be inside it.
The phone's incredible security system operates with a camera inside the car, which can beam real-time pictures to the handset so the user can see exactly what is happening inside their vehicle.
If the car's alarm is triggered, the system activates itself and warns the owner. Should the vehicle be stolen and move out of the phone's W-LAN (Wireless Local Area Network) range, the electronics automatically switch to a wider transmitter to keep the owner informed of the vehicle's location.
In addition, the driver can portably pre-set music playlists on the handset, which are then ready to play on entering the vehicle. The phone also gives users permission to access and start the car, dispensing with the need to use a key.
The handset operates with a touch-screen, which is able to decipher handwriting. A control unit on the front of the device uses haptics technology – which gives the driver menu-navigation guidance using their sense of touch – to make it easier to use while on the move.
Josef Schlossmacher, an Audi spokesperson, says the company is yet to target possible manufacturers with the handset. 'It's too early to give any name of a possible supplier; we have good links with lots of manufacturers, but I couldn't say who.' He added: 'It's been received positively (at the Tokyo Motor show), and it's certainly an interesting solution.'
The device was displayed as part of the Audi Metroproject Quattro concept car.