Clarion is primarily known for its aftermarket car audio and navigation solutions, but it's increasingly moving into the realm of smartphone integration. Looking to court iPhone users who'd appreciate the connectivity and convenience of Pioneer's AppRadio, but don't care to fuss with the installation, Clarion's Next Gate can be easily mounted to one's windshield. It offers access to popular apps such as TuneIn and Pandora, along with navigation, hands-free calling and voice-dialing functionality. Scarily enough, users will even be able to access Facebook and Twitter via the voice-activated Vlingo app -- please, just promise to keep your focus on the road. The display itself is a 7-inch, WVGA affair, and as you'd expect, the unit is powered by the vehicle's 12 volt accessory jack -- otherwise known as the cigarette lighter receptacle. Similarly, the Next Gate connects to the iPhone via Apple's dock connector, which means that users will need to manage a bit of cable clutter.
All in all, the Clarion Next Gate could certainly be a compelling solution for some, and its $270 price is within the realm of reason. While we're a bit concerned about what it entails for driving distractions, the unit shouldn't be any worse of a diversion than the ol' smartphone itself. In fact, we're most disappointed that there's no support for Android. Those in the privileged iPhone community will be able to purchase the Next Gate as of June 1st, and you'll find the full PR after the break.
Clarion Debuts Next GATE, a Revolutionary In-Vehicle Intelligent Controller for iPhone®
Transportable device enhances iPhone use in virtually any vehicle with easy access to apps and hands-free functionalities while on the road
Cypress, Calif. (May 7, 2012) – Clarion Corporation of America (CCA) announced today a smarter way to stay connected in your vehicle with Next GATE, a smartphone controller for iPhone. This device is easily connected and controls applications residing on the smartphone, allowing for advanced functionality in any vehicle. Key vehicle-friendly app partners include: TuneIn®, Pandora®, Vlingo©, INRIX Traffic, and InfoGation® with more to come. Likewise Clarion is currently working with multiple app partners to greatly expand the functionality of Next GATE. The functions of the applications are running on, and leveraging the power of, the smartphone and its wireless connectivity. Clarion's new Smart Access Cloud Telematics Service will enable users to download additional approved apps under development now and in the future.
Bluetooth functionality allows for hands-free calling and enables iPhone features such as voice dialing and voice activation.
Next GATE will enhance the way the iPhone will be used through integration, interface and intelligence. "Clarion Next GATE exemplifies the future of in-vehicle electronics with the necessity to connect to and leverage the devices consumers bring into the vehicle," states Paul Lachner, President of Clarion Corporation of America. "The Next GATE will revolutionize the way people communicate and access information in the vehicle via their iPhone in an intuitive and user-friendly way, keeping their focus on driving."
The Next GATE will have a broad consumer appeal due to its simple mounting and connection method, using a windshield mount and built-in speaker, microphone and audio output for a vehicle auxiliary jack.
The offerings with Next GATE include a growing array of app content providers such as TuneIn® which is a new way to listen to the world through live, local and global radio wherever you are with over 50,000 stations including music, sports, news or current events like the GOP debate, Daytona 500 or South by Southwest (SXSW). "We are excited that Clarion is bringing the world's radio stations to cars," said Carl J. Rohling, VP Business Development at TuneIn. "With the new Clarion Next GATE, drivers can simply and safely listen to the world's music, sports and news stations through the TuneIn Radio app on their smartphones."
Next GATE also integrates the popular Pandora® internet radio app, which allows for personalized music preferences. Pandora Executive Vice President of Business and Corporate Development Jessica Steel said, "Our listeners want Pandora everywhere they are, and our automotive partnerships further ensure that Pandora is being heard in the most popular venue for radio listening: the car. We're thrilled that Clarion is developing new technologies that enable more drivers to effortlessly listen to their personalized radio stations wherever they go."
Another addition is the Vlingo© voice recognition app which allows for speech to text capabilities ideal to connect to email and social media channels while behind the wheel.
"Clarion is known for its industry-leading automotive products. Integrating Vlingo's voice virtual assistant technology was a natural fit," says Chris Barnett, EVP of Markets, Vlingo. "We look forward to further collaboration and innovation with Clarion on compelling voice technology advancements to in-car systems."
Clarion's Next GATE also offers consumers a way to join the world's largest community of drivers outsmarting traffic together. With drivers wasting 34 gallons of gas last year idling in traffic jams and fuel expected to soar to $5 per gallon by summer, INRIX Traffic is a free smartphone app with up-to-the-minute insight into the fastest routes. The INRIX Traffic app covers nearly twice as many roads as any other app and it identifies the worst delays on highways and city streets nationwide so drivers can steer clear. "As gas prices soar worldwide, Clarion customers now benefit from the largest community of drivers in the world working together to save time, gas and money avoiding traffic," said Kevin Foreman, Vice President of Mobile Applications for INRIX. "We welcome Clarion and their customers to our community as we make drive time stress-free and less expensive for everyone."
Count on InfoGation to guide you to your destination with turn-by-turn navigation with full screen maps and graphics. "Having worked with Clarion over a decade ago to develop an advanced navigation software platform, InfoGation has built upon that base and we are pleased to be working with Clarion again on such an innovative product like the Clarion Next GATE" states Kent Pu, CEO of InfoGation. "We are thrilled to offer one of the most advanced, reliable mapping software applications for turn-by-turn navigation to such a revolutionary product."
These features coupled with a growing selection of apps are road-worthy enough to make any drive more enjoyable. Adding additional features and applications will be made possible by Clarion's all-new Smart Access connectivity platform for automotive.
Original content is offered via Next GATE with apps exclusive to the smartphone controller. Key iPhone functions become road friendly with Vlingo© support, such as Voice Launcher and Speech-to-Text app inclusions like Facebook®, Twitter and News applications which will allow for easy access all while keeping your focus on the road.
Aside from the great app integrations for Next GATE, it also comes equipped with a microSD slot, a built-in speaker, blue LED buttons and indicator, auxiliary audio output, built in microphone, external microphone ready and a 7-inch digital WVGA touch panel LCD monitor. The Next GATE is compatible with iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, and has a 12 volt power adapter for easy connection which also allows for charging while in-use. The system is connected via an easy to set up auxiliary connector while the Clarion Smart Access app manager is a free download on the iTunes® app store.
Clarion Next GATE Features and Benefits:
Controls approved smartphone apps optimized for in-vehicle use
Compatible with Clarion's Smart Access cloud service and app
Leverages application functions such as navigation, internet radio, social networking and voice control/ text readout for select functions
Built-in Bluetooth hands-free interface (HFP)
Built-in microphone and external microphone ready
Compatible with iPhone 4S and iPhone 4
iPhone direct connect and charging capabilities (cable included)
7-inch Digital WVGA Touch Panel LCD Monitor
Blue LED buttons and indicator
12 volt power adapter
AUX audio output
360º adjustable suction mount
Clarion's Next GATE will be available beginning June 1, 2012 at Best Buy, Crutchfield and on Amazon.com. The suggested retail price is $269.99. To learn more about Next GATE and other innovative products from Clarion, visit www.clarion.com/us