Close launches Streetdeck car computer

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El Segundo (CA) – has released an in car computer that lets users control multimedia and navigation functions through a touchscreen. Called the StreetDeck, the system combines a flip LCD monitor and a computer that can be mounted in the trunk.

The device is one of the first devices of its kind on the US market and can bring more multimedia than more and more common navigation functionality to any car. While GPS is supported by the StreetDeck, the device comes with the feature set of a computer, which inlcude playback of digital audio and video. There is also a recording feature that taps into FM and XM satellite radio and allows the user save broadcasts for later playback.

The car computer is controlled via a 7″ touchscreen that not only recognizes the activation of virtual buttons and switches, but comes with a simple letter recognition that is reminiscent of Palm’s Graffiti. This feature comes in handy especially when users have to enter a driving destination: Simply write letters with your finger across on the screen, instead of selecting letters from a virtual keyboard.

The StreetDeck computer runs on Windows XP Home and is powered by a Celeron M 370 (1.5 GHz) processor. Also included are a 60 GB harddrive, 512 MB of system meory and an integrated Fast Ethernet port. In addition there are two serial ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse ports and four USB 2.0 ports. With some additional cables and hardware users can connect their XM Satellite Radio and FM Stereo system to the computer.

The device offers lots of room to take advantage of having a computer in a car – the opportunities are mainly limited by the user’s creativity. For example, up to four webcams can be plugged into the StreetDeck computer. Car enthusiastscan use such cameras to enable rear-view video as an added measure of safety while backing up.

Robert Wray, CEO of, told TG Daily that the company will release a software development kit for the computer that will let programmers write Visual Basic scripts to do expand the feature set of the device. “You could have the car automatically roll up the windows if you are in a bad area,” said Wray.

The StreetDeck computer is currently selling for $1699, including the 7″ touchscreen. Wray told us that a future version will be an all-in-one solution built into a Fujitsu Tablet, which is suction cupped to the windshield. He is currently demonstrating the tablet at the DEMO 2006 conference in Arizona.