BARCELONA, Spain--At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Israeli start-up Comodo Console debuted a low-cost, all-in-one infotainment system that turns any car--including a 10-year-old beater--into a cutting-edge, connected tech sled.
Comodo's aftermarket product is a one-stop shop that goes way beyond your typical dash-mounted navigation system. For a flat monthly fee the company provides all the hardware, software, and data plan necessary to install and run the console in the vehicle. The package includes a rotatable console with a 4.3-inch touch screen, dedicated USB modem, GPS antenna, Bluetooth, backup camera, external microphone, speaker, and installation kit--devices that are normally reserved for the newest vehicles with top-of-the-line trim levels.
But it's more than just hardware. There's a library of 100 applications and services for the device accessible within two clicks, and the company is open to third-party applications, according to a spokesperson. Giving Pandora a run for its money, Comodo has negotiated with entertainment labels to create dozens of music applications, each acting like a channel that streams cloud-based music into the car. It may not be as customizable as Pandora, but the best part is that a data plan is included in the bundle.
Access to all the cloud-based app and services data is included in the monthly service fee, which is expected to run approximately $20 to $30 depending on the services the buyer chooses. The company says it is able to include services such as streaming music with the flat fee because Comodo Console will only be used for for the hour or two every day when someone is in the vehicle.
The absence of a Web browser also keeps data consumption under control. But apps aren't just for entertainment while you're stuck in traffic. There's a wide range of convenience features, such as shopping, dining, traffic, and office apps that turn your car into a mobile ground control.
While the out-of-the-box system would work in any car, it seems to be ideal for compact and economy cars, which often don't include high-end tech options. Comodo is already in discussions with manufacturers in Israel, such as Volvo and Honda, and it's also talking with Hertz as a potential customer. The console will debut in Israel, and the company is actively seeking international distributors, including in the U.S. But with smartphones that perform almost the exact same tasks, the product might be redundant for many buyers. However, no smartphone to date can work as a backup camera for your car.