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Oxygen Audio debuts car stereo with iPhone interface

Oxygen Audio will introduce at CES 2011 the first audio head unit that uses an iPhone and an app as the radio interface.

Oxygen Audio will demo its iPhone-based audio head unit at CES 2011.
Oxygen Audio will demo its iPhone-based audio head unit at CES 2011. Oxygen Audio

French electronics manufacturer Oxygen Audio will introduce an audio system at CES 2011 that uses an iPhone as the head unit interface. The O'Car audio system physically integrates an iPhone by snapping it to the front of the audio deck. A cantilever swivels the phone horizontally or vertically, and angles it in any direction.

Using the iPhone as the software platform, you'll be able to use your favorite app-du-jour for traffic information and navigation or whatever new technology comes to the market--as long as it goes to your phone. A downloadable app controls the entertainment system, offering AM/FM/RDS radio, 4 by 55 watt amp and subwoofer control, and also provides seamless app multitasking.

The single DIN head unit, which will retail for $299 in first quarter of 2011 (although there's a chance European markets will get it before Christmas), is equipped with hands-free calling Bluetooth capabilities and an external speaker. While you won't be able to access programs on your phone using voice commands, the O'Car app will automatically dim audio programs for voice prompts if you're using turn-by-turn directions or receiving or making phone calls, said Oxygen Audio spokesman Gregory Borchardt. And should you decide to switch devices, the aftermarket manufacturer is developing adapters for Androids.

The O'Car uses an app as a radio interface on an iPhone.
The O'Car uses an app as a radio interface on an iPhone. Oxygen Audio

Steering wheel controls aren't integrated with the O'Car system this time around, but the next generation of the unit will, says Borchardt. There aren't any USB ports on the unit for additional devices, but the next generation O'Car should have that functionality, according to an article at CE Outlook.

Integrating iPhones in the audio unit isn't just a way to capitalize on a technology trend. This strategy is being deployed by Smart and BMW as a cost-effective way to bring the latest communications and telematics features into vehicles. The advantage of using mobile devices as the entertainment platform is that they stay up-to-date, and people upgrade their phone a lot more frequently than they upgrade their ride.

Source: CE Outlook