Cruising two highways at once

You’re in the car, you’re late for a meeting and you’re lost. You’ve got phone calls to make and emails to send but you can’t stop. You need to check your share prices, plan a route and find out the football scores whilst placating your bored toddler, all without taking your eyes off the road.

This may be an unlikely set of circumstances, but a project aimed at solving these kind of problems was demonstrated on a concept car at Chicago’s Design Engineering Show.

Delphi Automotive Systems, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Netscape have demonstrated how existing hardware and software can be integrated to create a `network’ vehicle.

A flat antenna embedded in the roof of the car receives direct broadcast from Hughes DirecTV and DirecPC satellites which can provide passengers with travel information, movies and stock quotes.

In addition, voice recognition technology enables the driver to listen to email messages, locate restaurants, and find out sports results, all without interfering with driving. Furthermore, drivers can navigate using a head-up display projected onto the windscreen whilst passengers can use the internet, watch TV or play computer games.

Jim Mitchell (VP of technology at JavaSoft) says that it is the the real-time data-streaming capability of Java based technology that has made has made these `smart’ features in the automobile a reality.