Detroit Free Press - Technology companies vie to bring Web to cars
01/16/2011 - As drivers grow unwilling to unplug from the connected world during their jaunts across town, technology firms are racing to bring the Web into the car.
Others are offering innovations to keep us safe while we use those new services while barreling down the highway at breakneck speeds.
The connected car was a central theme at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where automakers and aftermarket manufacturers showed off the latest innovations for the vehicle.
Here's a sampling of the best from the showroom floor:
The tiwi is a small computer that parents can install on the dash or windshield of a new teen driver's car, tracking his or her every move.
Parents have access to a Web portal that grades the teen on things like braking, turning and speed control.
"It knows the posted speed limit on every street, so if you break the speed limit, it talks to the driver and tells them to slow down," said Andrew Watson, director of marketing.
Parents can get text-message alerts if the driver is going too fast, not wearing his or her seat belt or leaves a specified geographic area, among other things.
The tiwi (rhymes with kiwi) also contains a modified cell phone that allows the teen to make a one-button phone call (the parents get to choose the number) and allows the parent to call into the device using a standard phone number.
It picks up automatically, sending the parent's voice directly into the car, no questions asked.
But can the teen outsmart the unit by unplugging it?
"When they unplug it, it'll send a text message or e-mail to the parent to let them know that they did it," Watson said.
The unit costs $299 with a one-year service deal, with a monthly fee of $30.