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CES Communications Round-Up Part 4: Networks In Motion and Logic Wireless

While we are speaking about communications devices, I would be remiss not to mention two new mobile convergence technologies, one that is becoming mainstream and another that has a good chance to be.

Most folks don’t know the name Networks In Motion (no, not the BlackBerry maker RIM), but they are the leading provider for mobile GPS applications in North America, surpassing 3.5 million paid users. NIM powers some of the leading brands such as Sprint, Alltel, AT&T, and Verizon’s VZ Navigator turn-by-turn GPS service. The also have a deal with AAA for their AAA Mobile service, tapping into the 50 million members of that travel club.

NIM basically replicates what you might get through in-dash vehicle navigation systems, or by buying a personal navigation device (PND) Tom-Tom or Garmin, but makes this functionality available via your GPS-enabled mobile phones. Which means it goes everywhere you go, without the high cost or clunkiness of a larger plug-in device.

In addition to giving you real time turn-by-turn driving directions and maps, NIM’s technology also provides business and Points of Interest (POI) directories (such as restaurants, ATM locations, hospitals, parks, etc.), movie times and locations, local events, traffic conditions, gas prices, and weather on the go or from home. Because it is integrated with your phone, it can perform one-touch calling to the searched destination. And if you want to stay connected, NIM has “finder products” that integrate with social networking sites so your friends and family can see where you are and you can leverage their suggestions.

Check out this video demo: play video.

Though the screen is not as big as a PND, you can still use NIM’s mobile phone technology via voice prompts and your phone’s speaker-phone. The added benefit of the mobile phone’s portability and ubiquity will help NIM eat into the market share of PNDs and in-dash vehicle systems.

So, before you buy that next Garmin, you might want to save yourself the $200 and instead pay a small monthly fee to your service provider. You stand a better chance of keeping and using the service, instead of slowly giving up on your Garmin use due to lack of interest, frustration with set-up and tear down to avoid theft, or abuse of the device from lack of care which leads to its death (which has been my experience).

And if you didn’t think we packed enough mobile convergence technology into our cell phones, check out this new projector phone from Logic Wireless. Yes, that’s right, a projector phone. And why not? Their new Logic Bolt is a normal cell phone (QUAD Band GSM/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900) with a camera (MP3, MP4, Supports 3 GPP/AVI, PMP Support DVD, PMP, TV), Bluetooth support, and 3 megapixel video interface, but it also comes with a 640 x 480 VGA projector which can play up to 2 hours of play time. The cool thing is the Bolt can play both internal video, but can also project videos or PowerPoint from your PC via its VGA interface.

For anyone in the business world who has had to do a presentation on the fly (either on a screen or against the wall), the Bolt is a god-send. But I also think the Bolt will be enjoyed for personal use as well, when you give your friends an impromptu glimpse of your trip to Thailand or Grandma a slide-show of Jonny’s birthday pictures. I predict the Logic Bolt will find a market in the business world as a second phone. In addition to finalizing the phone and putting together their distribution strategy, Logic Wireless would be wise to partner with other manufacturers to bake its technology into their devices (RIM, are you listening?). Either way, hats off to Logic Wireless for this nifty piece of innovation.

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