By Nick Aziz
Thursday, Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 4:31 pm
 
CNET has a fascinating look at a new system under development by Volkswagen that provides a user-friendly interface to a number of electronic devices and software programs. It's called Gypsy, and at the center of the system in a large LCD touch screen located in the car's center console. Most notably, it includes the ability to interface with many popular devices, such as the Apple iPod and Palm Treo. The prototype car has a slot for inserting an iPod. Once the iPod is connected, the user no longer needs to touch it. Instead, it can be controlled entirely via the touch screen interface. The car also appears to have a built-in iTunes player, but that was not previewed. There's also an audio jack, Firewire, and USB interface. Other devices -- like the Palm Treo -- can be interfaced via Bluetooth. The Treo in the demonstration acts as the connectivity and email device for the car. However, the driver does not need to touch the handheld. Again, it is accessed entirely via the touch screen interface. For email there's even a list of commonly used phrases like "Can't type right now" and "Call me," accessible via a single click. Lastly, the system offers "widgets" -- downloadable plug-ins that add further functionality to the car. One example was a widget that wirelessly communicates with appliances inside the house and enables the owner to control them from the driveway. See the full video here. VW is also developing a Google Maps-based navigation system with the internet giant.