Drivers in Japan can check on their pets, turn lights off and on and lock their front door —all from inside their cars —with a new car navigation system from Panasonic. The 354,900 yen ($3,400) Strada F-Class guides drivers with maps to destinations like regular car navigation. The gadget also links to your home through an Internet-linking mobile phone.
It is set to go on sale in Japan June 13 and was shown to reporters in Tokyo Wednesday. No overseas sales plans are set so far.
All you need to do is touch icons on the touch-screen panel of the car navigation system, such as 'turn off the ligh' or 'lock the door.
The catch is you need a special Internet-linking home with its own server that hooks up gadgets and lighting to work with mobile phones and products like Strada F-Class. Only about 2,000 homes in Japan have such Net-linking systems so far, said Panasonic official Naohisa Morimoto.
To see an image of your pet or other still shots of your home, you need a special camera that has Net-linking features. You need a special lock to take advantage of the locking feature. The systems aren't cheap, costing about 200,000 yen ($1,900), although cheaper ones are available. They even require additional construction costs.
Panasonic, a brand of Matsushita Electric Industrial, has its own businesses of setting up Internet servers in homes, as well as a home-building unit.
The Strada F-Class can't do much more than turn lights and air conditioning off and on. But Morimoto said consumers may seek to ward off burglary by putting on an appearance of being home by turning lights off and on while they're away.
Panasonic plans to sell about 8,000 of the Strada F-Class navigation machines a month in Japan.