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Sony debuts Linux-based in-car nav / infotainment line in Japan

Jun 10, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 35 views

Sony introduced three Linux-based in-car navigation and infotainment devices in Japan today. The NV-XYZ 33, 55, and 77 feature 3D map navigation technology, media players, hard drives, GPS, and PC connectivity. And they are based on a Linux 2.4-series kernel.

The NV-XYZ Navi turns driving into a video game!

The 3D mapping interface shows actual buildings, and knows street addresses, enabling it to identify destination addresses. In the picture at right, it has identified a gas station belonging to a promotional partner. Advertising for many other businesses, such as fast food outlets, appears to be built into the maps.

A touchscreen interface provides a small qwerty keyboard and numerical keypad. The device supports gesture-based map zooming (pictured at left), and drop-down menus. At present, maps appear to be available for Tokyo and other locations in Japan.

In addition to mapping software, the device includes a range of entertainment software, including media players, a Web browser, an email client, a light word processor (the touchscreen includes qwerty and numerical keypad applications), photo slideshow tools, and more. The device's main applications menu is shown at right; click to enlarge.

Linux inside

The units measure 8 x 4 x 1.9 inches (204 x 104 x 49 mm), and weigh 25.4 ounces (720 grams). They are based on a MIPS-based processor of some kind, and boot a distribution based mainly on a MontaVista embedded OS from a cramfs filesystem on Flash memory. They include a 6.5-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) touchscreen LCD display running at WVGA (800 x 480) resolution.

All three units include a docking station enabling the unit to be affixed to the dashboard or console of an automobile (shown above). The station includes a cigarette lighter power plug. They also include a small tethered GPS unit (pictured at right) that is placed in the window. The high-end 77 model also includes an “extended” station, a cradle that fits underneath the driver's headrest in order to position the unit for backseat viewing (pictured below, left).

The 33 (low-end) and 77 (high-end) models include a home PC docking station. All models include cardbus CompactFlash sockets supporting wireless cards. The units have a USB 2.0 client interface, and appear to use the USB mass storage protocol. They also include a memory stick slot for use with digital camera memory sticks.

The devices come with proprietary Windows software called XYZ Desktop (shown at right, click to enlarge) that is used to download DVDs, CDs, maps, and other data into the units from a Windows PC or laptop. However, the units also appear to have wireless networking tools, samba, and openssh software, as well as tinylogin and busybox to provide a minimal shell environment. So, it may also be possible to transfer files using more normal procedures. However, GateKeeper copy protection may prevent this.

Supported video formats include MPEG-1/2/4, AVI (DVD), and WMV. Music formats include MP3, ATRAC3, and ATRAC3plus. The device can playback multimedia as an inset while using the navigation feature (see picture at left, click to enlarge). A remote control unit is included (screenshot).

The units are priced at 155,400, 176,400, and 207,900 yen (currently $1,422, $1,614, and $1,902). They are available in “quality black,” and “stylish silver,” with the low-end unit also available in “sporty white.”

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