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Shuttle Computer, the world’s leading maker of small form-factor (SFF) personal computer (PC) barebones, has showcased a concept of a system for cars, hinting the new market that the company wants to penetrate with its innovative designs.

At CarTronics show at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) Shuttle demonstrated a prototype of a PC system to be integrated into car vehicles. A report from DigiTimes claims that Shuttle plans to invest $2 million into developments of car-use information systems based on the XPC concept, which emphasizes that the company is pretty serious about getting its computers into cars. Initially the company plans to offer car-use XPCs to car sellers in Taiwan, sometime in Q4 2006, but eventually the company wants to approach car makers themselves.

The system that Shuttle displayed at CarTronics was based on AMD Athlon 64 3700+ microprocessor and had 1GB of DDR memory along with a special power supply that could feed up the components from 12V DC in vehicles. Shuttle installed its already known XPC SN21G5 system into Mercedes S-class car between two rear seats, granted, the car is fairly spacious.

The prototype featured three liquid crystal displays (LCDs) – two in the rear side and one on the driver’s side, two keyboards – one for the driver and one for the passengers in the rear side, four webcams, audio system and so on.

When installed into an automobile, the system supports such functions as GPS-based navigation, voice control and entertainment services. Besides, it enables communications via Skype, MSN and other software, using 3G wireless modem technology or, in future, WiMAX technology.

Personal computers in cars is definitely not a news, however, for Shuttle Computer, whose sales of PC barebones have been below expectations for several consecutive quarters, according to reports, this may be a way out, as such systems have much higher average selling price (ASP) compared to typical PCs. On the other hand, Shuttle needs to persuade car makers that its systems are the best and provide some unique functionality, or to cooperate with large tuning studios.

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