Pioneer Launches AppRadio and Voice Control – Pioneer Electrics pursues its aftermarket car electronics technology leadership with its AppRadio, which is the first in-vehicle product to utilize the processing power, storage capacity, network connectivity and apps of the iPhone and iPod Touch as the primary source for its information and entertainment capabilities. It has a large hi-def 6.1-inch capacitive touchscreen designed for safer in-vehicle operation, with Bluetooth for hands-free calling and an input for an optional rear-facing back-up video camera. The touchscreen controls all functions, including the app interface, an iPod, FM/AM radio, and Bluetooth. Users can easily access Google Maps, INRIX, Rdio and Pandora Radio. RDS text information is displayed when available, as well as the familiar iPod navigation menu. There is a remote wired steering wheel control adapter and an external amp. The AppRadio has a SRP below $500.
Pioneer will announce the OEM partners next month for its new Zypr voice-controlled web services platform for infotainment systems, smartphones, TVs, tablets and PCs. Zypr operates as a web-service hub letting users centralize multiple web service accounts for access across multiple devices. Zypr users will access their services with user interface similar to that with in-car infotainment systems; all logins are centralized. Zypr also integrates apps to work together in previously unavailable ways. Over 20 companies have partnered so far to offer apps tied in with Zypr.
Hyundai Starts Blue Link Telematics Services – This has nothing to do with audio but seemed worth knowing: Ever heard of telematics? I hadn’t. It is a service package offered in certain automobiles – Hyundai expects all its models to have it by 2013 – and it can do some amazing things. It can slow down and then immobilize your car if it is stolen, locks doors with a smartphone app, help recover stolen vehicles, report on traffic and voice-activated points-of-interest, start your car remotely, do automatic crash notification, can summon help, and do navigation with auditory and visual prompts in vehicles without an onboard navigation system. Another feature is Geo-Fence, which sends a notification if a vehicle is driven outside prescribed borders or time periods. A speed-alert feature will notify you if the vehicle is driven over a specified speed threshold. The alerts are sent to you via email, texting, or by automated phone message. I’ll bet a lot of parents will want that one.
Paris Opera’s Ring Cycle – is the first time the company has done Wagner’s epic since 1957 and it’s definitely a modern staging. Director Günter Krämer has Rhinegold in a late industrial-age setting, and Die Walküre with strong WWII references. Siegfried is set in a campy ‘50s, with Mime as a beatnik growing his own marijuana. Götterdämmerung takes us to the ‘70s with a mustachioed Gunther in a sleazy green leisure suit and the Rhine Maidens in identical black cocktail dresses.