Innovation That Matters

Navigation system gives drivers a visible lifeline

Mobility & Transport

In-car direction finders have revolutionized driving. But for many drivers, the devices’ spoken instructions eventually become annoying or distracting. And while it can be a big help when your device tells you to turn left in 500 feet, trying to estimate that distance in heavy traffic can add to stress levels. The makers of Virtual Cable say they have a better solution. The New York City area start-up has designed a heads-up dashboard display that virtually ‘paints’ a highly visible line above the road ahead. The line curves precisely where a driver using an in-car navigation device would normally be instructed to turn. Follow the line till you reach your destination. It’s that simple. Little wonder that Virtual Cable’s founders drew thousands of curious visitors to their website after their product was first introduced at a navigation technology conference in San Jose, California, last December. But before the product reaches consumers, the parent firm, Making Virtual Solid, must partner with an existing navigation system maker. Virtual Cable will only be available in new cars, the founders say, though it also will be retrofitted into some commercial vehicles. Nonetheless, Virtual Cable illustrates how the relatively new auto navigation field continues to innovate rapidly. Other exhibitors at the December 2007 conference discussed ways to grow advertising revenue and maximize subscription return. Both should prove vital areas as the market matures. Meanwhile, in the wake of the January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, tech writers have discussed industry efforts to incorporate entertainment, social networking and hacker protection into auto navigation systems, while readying those systems for WiMax as that wide-area broadband technology continues to expand. The takeaway: all these niches within the auto-navigation field remain blissfully open to any entrepreneur with a sellable idea and the wherewithal to get it to market. Web site: Spotted by: Bjarke Svendsen



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