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IBM stars in new Wi-Fi karaoke device

Big Blue teams up with Japanese company on a device that lets people access songs within a remote control.

A new type of karaoke machine offers access to song catalogs within a remote control.

The Kyoku-NAVI S and Kyoku-NAVI II karaoke controllers were developed by IBM and Xing, a subsidiary of Brother Industries located in Nagoya, Japan. The devices will be available in Japan in November.

Instead of having to look up a code number in a printed catalog and then type it into a machine, users can employ the devices' touch screens to search or browse a database listing tens of thousands of songs by singer, song title or category. Users can also view promotional content and sports information.

The controllers, which have a built-in wireless LAN, access a song catalog via IBM DB2 Everyplace, a technology that provides data-management services and enables mobile devices to access databases online or from remote servers.

As Xing is not offering a content service with the device, the actual catalog that will be accessible will depend on what the karaoke bar or restaurant offers via its own servers or online subscription service.

The Kyoku-NAVI II model also enables people to use the device to order food and drinks, .

Other features include registering favorite songs. A history search option shows the last songs chosen from that controller, and singers can also see a preview of a video. The device allows users to search for songs in English, Chinese or Korean, in addition to Japanese. It is also shock-resistant and waterproof.

Both the Kyoku-NAVI S and the Kyoku-NAVI II will be available in Japan in early November. Xing has not yet released specific pricing for the device or when it will be available in the U.S. or Europe, according to a representative for Xing.