At its inception MobileAria planned to match up a Palm Pilot PDAs and cell phones to deliver Internet access to cars. The company is now changing its emphasis to laptops to deliver the Web to vehicles.
MobileAria’s service, scheduled for launch later this year, will now require a laptop, instead of a handheld computer to access in-car Internet and other services, including not only contact and calendar information, but also voice-recognition software licensed from Lernout & Hauspie.
Although Palm is one of the start-up's main backers, Palm's PDAs have moved into the background of MobileAria's efforts, according to Michael Orr, CEO of MobileAria.
"There are as many people using laptops in their cars as PDAs. For technical reasons, (we can) get off the ground quicker using laptops," Orr said. "Palm invested in us as a venture, not to tie us up."
When MobileAria does add support for the Palm, it will require an additional computing device to act as a go-between, baring in mind the Palm is not powerful enough to do the voice-recognition and other work required for MobileAria’s service to work.
Initially, MobileAria's sales will be limited to customers in the San Francisco Bay area, and the company will target people permanently on the move such as real-estate agents, salespeople and service workers.
In an advanced package, a global positioning system (GPS) can be added, according to MobileAria.
Numerous companies are currently vying for market share in the in-vehicle communications market. Sun Microsystems has teamed with General Motors’ OnStar in a bid to make Java technology the computing standard for the automotive industry. Microsoft, Intel and IBM have also announced future projects.
For more information on MobileAria, visit www.mobilearia.com