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Telenav is offering car companies an embedded navigation system that links to smartphones

Mel Martin

One of the problems with using an iPhone or other smartphone for navigation is the screen size. Manipulating the phone while driving can be a serious distraction.

To address this shortcoming -- and leverage the large-screen displays that are present in some modern vehicles -- Telenav has announced a new embedded system called Scout for Cars. Scout for Cars lets your smartphone running a Telenav Scout application connect to the built-in car navigation screen. That keeps the navigation data up to date, and lets routing or other information transfer seamlessly between the Scout app and the in-car system.

Scout for Cars works in two directions, allowing navigation information from the head unit to go back to the Telenav app for last-mile information or walking directions to a destination.

The system features up-to-date maps, transferred from the smartphone, local weather with real-time conditions and forecasts, local search, traffic information and voice control. Telenav considers this solution a new breed of service that combines the best of built-in systems with the fresh data available from smartphones like the iPhone.

This approach will allow the Telenav app to be branded by others. Of course, car makers need to cooperate with this approach to make it all work and give built-in screens connectivity to the Telenav app, but Telenav representatives say there is interest.

I got a demo of the system this morning in San Francisco and the marriage of the two approaches seems worthwhile. My biggest gripe about my car's built-in system is that even if I update my maps and local info it is already out of date.

Gallery: Scout for Cars | 2 Photos

The product family is available for automotive companies now. Telenav already provides services for partners like AT&T, Ford, T-Mobile U.S., Sprint Nextel and others.

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