Whoa, the www.nytimes.com site has moved to a cookie system instead of a
password firewall page. When did this happen!? It's great, I no longer
have to type in my pasword.
Found this using the search facilities of the NYT site in about 3
seconds... sometimes I love the Web!
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April 29, 1997
Daimler-Benz to Exhibit Early-Stage Internet Car
By JOHN MARKOFF
[P] ALO ALTO, Calif. -- The notion of the information
highway may be getting trite. But how about the
Anticipating a near-future with wireless capabilities
well beyond the car phone, engineers at a Daimler-Benz
research center in Silicon Valley on Wednesday will roll
out a Mercedes E420 equipped to give driver and
passengers full access to the World Wide Web.
The engineers and programmers -- who have outfitted the
Mercedes with more personal computers, flat-panel
screens and network connections than are found in most
modern offices -- take pains to note that their "Web
Car" is a only a technology demonstration and that
commercial applications are probably five years or more
in the future.
The point now, they say, is to show that car computing
is technically feasible.
"We have a car that is fully connected to cyberspace,"
said Paul Mehring, president of the Daimler-Benz
Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto. "This opens
up a completely new dimension of options and services
that will be delivered to the car and back to the
Beyond sending and receiving e-mail from the fast lane,
potential uses for an Internet-ready car range from
customized traffic alerts that could be transmitted from
a Web site to such commercial services as remote
roadside assistance, allowing repair centers to diagnose
a breakdown from afar and send a mechanic or tow truck
using Internet-based navigational systems.
Such navigational aids might also alert drivers on the
move to nearby businesses, give directions and even
offer discounts for customers who drove up and said "The
Web sent me."
But as with many new information technologies, analysts
expect the first uses to be work-related.
"So many people are are working on the road that there
is a move to mobile offices within cars," said Sheridan
Tatsuno, president of Dreamscape Network, a
computer-industry consulting firm in Aptos, Calif.
Tatsuno also notes that high-tech gadgetry has long been
a means for luxury carmakers to distinguish themselves
from competitors, and that information technology is the
latest manifestation of that impulse.
Already, for example, General Motors offers an optional
system called Onstar for its 1997 Cadillacs, which
includes a cellular data modem for receiving emergency
and roadside assistance information. GM has advertised
Onstar's ability to remotely unlock Cadillacs if owners
lose their keys. But Onstar is based on a proprietary
wireless cellular network, not the public Internet.
The silver Mercedes that will be demonstrated Wednesday
is equipped with three flat-panel displays, one in the
center of the dashboard above the radio, and two others
embedded at eye level in the back of each headrest, for
use by rear-seat passengers.
These screens act as monitors for several computers in
the car's trunk, including a portable IBM Thinkpad, an
Internet gateway computer and a Sega Saturn game
Internet connections are made with an AT&T wireless
digital cellular phone and a Metricom wireless modem. In
the front seat is an armrest interface, where the driver
can insert a U.S. Robotics Pilot palmtop computer for
transferring a Web address and other data to the car
The car also has a global positioning, satellite-based
navigational system that can display map data on any of
the car's three screens and offer visual and spoken
directions about the trip route.
The Daimler-Benz scientists concede that simply linking
a car to the Internet raises various concerns.
Computer displays visible to the driver are an obvious
safety hazard, said Akhtar Jameel, a Daimler-Benz
researcher. So the team is at work on ways to use
speech-synthesis software that would read aloud
information on the screen. (Although even that solution
might provide little solace in light of recent studies
indicating that talking on a conventional cellular phone
is statistically as dangerous as driving drunk.)
Privacy is also an imponderable, researchers said.
Because the global-positioning system might make a car's
location data continually available to law-enforcement
officials or others, many drivers might have qualms
about using it.
But it is possible to design the Internet auto system so
that the car and driver could remain anonymous, said
Axel Fuchs, a research manager for Daimler-Benz.
It is also possible, of course, to turn the system off.
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What will future search agents make of it? Will they auto classify, so
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computer users'? Better yet, search by analogy: 'Jobites'...
-- Rohit Khare