LAS VEGAS--A 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander anchored one corner of Gracenote's booth at CES, serving to demonstrate the car's new Fuse media gateway. Similar to Ford's Sync, Fuse lets users hook up an MP3 player or USB drive and ask the car to play music by saying an artist or album name. Unlike Sync, which is based on Microsoft's automotive platform, Fuse comes from Johnson Controls, giving automakers another option when offering this type of voice command capability.
Gracenote's part in this system is its phonetic database of artists and albums, which makes the voice recognition uncannily accurate. The database also includes artist name equivalents, letting you say, for example, play CCR, for which it will bring up Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In the Outlander, Fuse is paired with a Rockford Fosgate audio system, delivering raucous bass able to set off car alarms.
Gracenote also showed us a music interface it developed. This Mood Grid interface lets you choose music by selecting an area from a two-axis grid. One axis runs from Positive to Dark, while the other cross from Calm to Energetic.
The idea behind this interface is to free users from digging through potentially hundreds of artist names on a connected MP3 player while driving. Gracenote's music database categorizes music by mood and tempo, so whatever area on the grid the driver selects will bring up appropriate music.
Gracenote showed off this interface in a Flash application, outside of any potential vehicle application.
In another display, Gracenote showed off its MediaLink technology, intended to provide a seamless media experience between home and car. For the demonstration, Gracenote had Madagascar playing on a set-top box. We paused the movie with an iPhone app, then went over to a rear seat entertainment system and restarted the movie at the point it had been paused.
As demonstrated, the system relied on locally stored copies of the movie, with information about the pause time transferred from home to car.
MediaLink will be a boon to parents trying to tear children away from their movies to get on the road.