Unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Pioneer AVIC-F500BT mixes navigation features and entertainment capabilities as well as offers consumer an “hybrid solution” to be used as a portable solution on a cradle or integrated into the dashboard.
“It aggregates compatible portable personal devices — whether it’s an iPod, an MP3 player or Bluetooth cell phone — and links them all together without having to completely change out the car’s entire factory audio system”, said Larry Rougas, vice president of marketing and product planning at Pioneer Electronics USA. “And with VoiceBox technology, which goes beyond fixed voice commands, the use of these devices in the car is more convenient,” he added.
The AVIC-F500BT can operate as both a navigation device and as a media center for entertainment. Through an auxiliary audio input in a factory audio system or using the available Pioneer installation module, the system becomes an aggregator and “gateway” for personal audio and communication devices. Built-in speakers and a rechargeable battery are also provided for use of the system while on the go.
It accepts portable devices with a USB connection and music-filled SD memory cards through two slots available in the body of the unit. When a device is plugged in, the AVIC-F500BT recognizes it as a source and controls it through its touch panel display and/or by voice control.
The AVIC-F500BT includes the “Conversational Voice Search Platform” from voice recognition company VoiceBox. The conversational element is its ability to analyze normal and varying phrases such as “I want to hear the artist U2” or “play U2” and play back the songs accordingly. Another element of “conversational” is in situations where the user command is not crystal clear, such as, “Play, um, um let’s see the album Joshua Tree.” The unit has the capacity to recognize the command from the phrase, eliminating the extra words.
Additionally, with “intent recognition”, the user does not have to perform special commands for voice call. It can simply say, “Call John Doe” and the unit will prompt the user for additional information by responding, “I have two numbers for John Doe, Home and Mobile. Which would you like to call?”
Pure navigation functions are not left apart
But the AVIC-F500BT is also a powerful navigation device powered by Tele Atlas maps. Its 5.8 inches WVGA screen let ever the most short-sighted driver see the directions. The text to speech engine gives names of the streets. In addition, the AVIC-F500BT displays traffic information, weather forecasts, gas prices and movie times for up to 100 cities across the United States and Canada thanks to MSN Direct. The first three months of this service are offered for free, the cost of a further subscription has not been made public yet. The system also lets users update and add POI information via the SD card slot using a PC application provided by Pioneer.
Furthermore, for safety, the AVIC-F500BT is equipped with a camera input and back-up trigger. The system automatically displays images from an optional camera, when the vehicle is shifted into reverse.
One disappointment however comes to mind looking at the data sheet of this device: the voice recognition does not extend to the navigation. This is clearly a missing feature on such high end device that will compete with Magellan, Garmin, TomTom products that offer it. Next year at the CES?