Pioneer's rearview mirror gives drivers cloud data

Real-time maps, traffic and weather are updated from the LTE connection

Pioneer's LTE rearview mirror can display information such as maps and weather.

Pioneer's LTE rearview mirror can display information such as maps and weather.

If your car isn't smart and connected yet, Pioneer has a rearview mirror that can do the trick.

The audio equipment maker showed off what it calls a "rearview mirror telematics unit" with LTE connectivity that displays cloud-based data such as navigation, traffic conditions and weather updates.

The real-time info is displayed on a 5-inch LCD that functions as a mirror when it's not showing anything. It takes up part of the unit's surface beside the dedicated mirror and can also display video from a linked rearview camera.

Info can be accessed via voice commands or the touchscreen interface on the LCD. The LTE connection also enables it to be a Wi-Fi access point for mobile devices in the car.

The back of the unit has a forward-facing, wide-angle camera that can serve as a drive recorder. It can warn drivers when they drive erratically or when a vehicle ahead changes lanes.

"The unit's image recognition and recording functions, as well as the wide field of view, are benefits of using a rearview mirror format for this kind of connected device," a Pioneer spokesman said. "It's also well positioned to recognize voice commands from the driver."

The company has not announced a price or availability for the mirror, but said that in Japan it will be eligible for ¥300 (US$2.75) monthly connection fees from mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo, which helped develop the voice command system.

Pioneer plans to commercialize the mirror by next April, and could market it as a fleet-management device for trucking companies and other firms.

Pioneer has been refocusing on in-vehicle devices instead of home electronics. Earlier this month, the former TV manufacturer announced a deal in which Onkyo will acquire all shares in its subsidiary Pioneer Home Electronics, which produces home audio systems, headphones and Blu-ray Disc players.

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Tim Hornyak

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