HIT THE GAS--AND THE INTERNET
NOW HERE'S A VEHICLE even the Jetsons would envy: A Chevrolet Blazer that lets you browse the World Wide Web, retrieve E-mail messages, pick up restaurant recommendations, and get directions to your next destination. You don't even need a mouse or keyboard to use it. Just your voice.
On Nov. 17, four technology heavyweights--IBM, Delco Electronics, Netscape Communications, and Sun Microsystems--teamed up to introduce the ''network vehicle'' prototype at the annual Comdex convention in Las Vegas. The beefed-up Blazer has a satellite dish embedded in the roof that allows connections to the Web of 400 kilobits per second, which is seven times faster than the 56-kbps modems that now top the market. Voice-recognition capabilities mean you can scoop up information from the Web and never take your hands off the wheel. The info is displayed on the driver's windshield, just like a fighter pilot's target map.
A fully loaded version of the vehicle won't come to market anytime soon--the extras cost several thousand dollars. But pieces of the technology are likely to be commercialized in the next year or so. Most promising is the windshield display that can be integrated with a pager or a wireless phone. That way, Web pages or E-mail messages can be displayed on the windshield for easy viewing.
EDITED BY PETER ELSTROM
Updated Nov. 20, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.