With its launch of iLane, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems is proving that the age of in-car e-mail is already upon us. The device uses Bluetooth connectivity and text-to-voice technology to read out incoming e-mails received by a driver's PDA or smart phone. Drivers are notified of an incoming message by a chime, after which the system proceeds to read out the text of the message in a comprehensible robotic voice via the car's speakers. Drivers can then dictate a response, which is recorded and sent as an MP3 file to the sender's computer.
There also are 10 preset responses--selected by driver voice command--which are e-mailed as text responses. The device doubles as a hands-free interface, enabling drivers to dial phone numbers using voice commands. To use iLane, you'll need a Bluetooth-enabled, e-mail-capable mobile device and either a Bluetooth headset or a Bluetooth-enabled stereo (such the KDCX890). iLane should go on sale in March and cost "under $1,000," according to IMS.