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Ford squeezes an office into a truck

Mobile office inside a truck includes touch-screen PC, printer, wireless broadband and GPS. What, no water cooler? Photos: Computer that's 'built Ford tough'

Ford Motor unveiled a mobile office designed for the new F-Series truck that includes a touch-screen computer, printer, wireless broadband access and Global Positioning System.

Water cooler not included.

Ford, which introduced its mobile office Tuesday at this week's Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, is targeting general contractors with its latest accessories. The mobile system is designed to let contractors bid on jobs, order parts and materials, and process payments from their trucks.

"F-Series is all about getting the job done, and this new mobile office technology will fit our truck owners' needs to be on the go as their business demands," Marty Collins, Ford general marketing manager, said in a statement.

The mobile office system is expected to become a dealer-installed accessory in 2006.

Ford teamed up with Stargate Mobile, Microsoft and California Custom Sport Trucks to provide the lightweight, touch-screen slate computer, which is mounted on the transmission tunnel inside the truck. The computer rests inside a cradle and is powered by the vehicle's battery. The computer also features a touch-screen that is viewable in bright sunlight and runs on Microsoft's Windows XP Professional.

The office system uses a broadband wireless cellular card to keep the computer online continuously and has the ability to connect with a digital camera to transfer images to customers.

Ford's mobile office is the latest move by car manufactures to extend technology into vehicles. Other efforts include integrating Apple Computer's iPod digital audio player into car stereos and voice-activated technology for use inside vehicles.