updated 05:05 pm EDT, Thu May 24, 2007
MS Car Dock Patent
Microsoft is clearing the way for a unique two-way docking stereo for cars, according to a US patent granted to the company earlier this week. Simply referring to a "portable computing device-integrated appliance," the patent allows for a handheld device to dock directly with a car stereo or similar head-end unit to share its media. More important, Microsoft notes, is the ability for the device itself to send information to the stereo: docking the device could change its display to serve as a replacement for the stereo's native interface, controlling both its own local files as well as those on the stereo. Using the handheld this way would take away the clutter of an external docking cradle, Microsoft says; though unstated, it would also let owners guard against thieves by removing the main screen and even storage for the stereo.
The patent primarily includes PDAs and smartphones in its patent, suggesting that the immediate intent is to use the technology for Windows Mobile devices rather than media players. However, the patent is generic enough to include most any "handheld computer," according to Microsoft's definition. This could include the Zune and other jukeboxes, which could use the advancement through a software update.
Microsoft's closest real-world application of the patent includes its Sync initiative, which will see special stereos integrate with supporting devices through Bluetooth or USB. However, Sync doesn't appear to address integration of the portable within the stereo itself and ultimately points to a Sync successor or a newer platform altogether. [via CrunchGear]