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Aisin says swipe this GPS

Automotive equipment supplier Aisin shows off upcoming head units at the Paris Motor Show.

Aisin head unit
Aisin's new cheap head unit allows finger swipe control.
Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Aisin head unit
Aisin's new cheap head unit allows finger-swipe control. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Automotive industry equipment supplier Aisin showed off a new navigation system to debut in Toyota models with a swipe interface.

The navigation and infotainment head unit, intended as an inexpensive option for entry level Toyota models, uses an SD card to store its maps. During a demonstration, we watched an Aisin representative put the head unit into interactive map mode, then move the map by swiping his finger across the screen. Faster swipes caused the map to move faster. Likewise, he swiped across a zoom bar to magnify the map, as opposed to the current method of tapping an onscreen button.

Swiping was not limited to the map; it also worked on the radio and iPod interface. Swiping down a list of artists or radio stations caused the list to scroll, the speed of the swipe dictating the amount of scrolling.

Aisin head unit
Aisin also showed off this new head unit, but it is not currently slated for any carmaker. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Aisin head unit
This head unit offers navigation, Bluetooth phone, and audio options. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

As another capability, this head unit could display video from an iPod. The unit has a USB port and associated auxiliary cable. With an iPod connected to these ports through a special cable, the iPod's video library became available on the head unit's screen. We were assured that there were built-in safeguards to lock out the head unit's video display while the car was in motion, but the unit might work as a convenient source for a rear-seat entertainment system.

This new head unit debuts in certain European Toyota models next year. There is no word yet if Toyota will use a similar system in the U.S., but it could be the key to cheaper navigation options in Corolla and Camry models.