Thursday, March 27, 2008

Funambol in my car

Yesterday, Dash finally launched its device. The first feedback from Walt Mossberg at the WSJ has been "I like it a lot". I can't agree more...

What is Dash Express? It is a car navigator. A device you put in your car and gives you directions. Ok, I know you might have one already. But this is different. Dash Express is connected to the net. Via GPRS or wifi (if you have an hotspot around, e.g. in your house when your car is parked).

Being connected to the net has few major advantages:
  1. every car tells the Dash system where it is and how fast is going. That gives them an incredible accuracy on knowing how the traffic is doing and giving you suggestions on where to go to avoid jams. Choosing 280 over 101 can save you hours in Silicon Valley...
  2. you can browse for places to go to in the car, directly searching in Yahoo Local (which has every possible place you want to go to). You are not limited by the old and out-of-date CD database.
  3. you can highlight an address on your browser (when you are in front of your computer) and send it to your car. Once you get in the car, the address is there and you can just follow the instructions to get to your destination.
  4. the device updates itself over-the-air, including maps and features and bug fixes.
I have been a beta user of Dash Express. I received my first unit at the end of 2006, over a year ago. That device had an external GPS antenna and some quirks in the navigation: for example, it gave me instructions to go into a road, violating the traffic code, or suggested me a never ending loop to go home ;-) Now it is bug-free and pretty much perfect.

Actually, it just became a dream for me. I developed an integration with myFUNAMBOL, which now pushes to the device my calendar events. That is, if I put an appointment on my Outlook and I add the location in it, it shows up in the car. I mean, I get in the car and I have all my appointments there. One click and I get routed to the place (with the fastest route, avoiding traffic jams). No worries.

The way I got addicted to Dash + Funambol Calendar sync equals my addiction to TiVo. I do not believe I found a device that changed my life as TiVo did, giving me back my freedom. Time is the most precious thing I have. TiVo saves it. Dash is very very close to it. I do not think I could live without it now...

We are demoing the calendar sync on the Dash Express at CTIA next week in Vegas. If you want to take a look, stop by our booth (#3800). We are making this available to the myFUNAMBOL public - for free and open source as usual - in a couple of weeks. Ahh, and if you just can't wait, just go and buy your Dash Express today. They sell it on Amazon as well.