H.I.G. Growth Partners News
Contact:Jenna Boller for Funambol
Page One PR
Funambol Unveils World's First Touchless iCar
Vehicle smashes driving age limit with "snap" finger-powered steering;
integrates cruise control with Google Latitude to automatically get friends
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - April 1, 2009 - Funambol, the mobile open source company that puts 'Fun' back in mobile, today announced the introduction of the iCar, the world's first completely touchless vehicle. The iCar is the result of nanoseconds of research and development and revolutionizes automobile travel. In the past, it took trained drivers and concentration to operate a vehicle (except apparently in certain locales, such as New York City and Rome). The iCar eliminates these requirements with a vehicle that is so easy to use, even a caveman can drive it. The iCar borrows from design principles of the iPhone to ensure that anyone, even those without prior qualifications, can drive. It includes innovative features such as cruise control that is fully integrated with Google Latitude so that you can just utter a friend's name and iCar goes and gets them.
The all-weather iCar is distinguished from traditional vehicles by its lack of a conventional directional orb, also known as a steering wheel. Instead, a person just uses new "snap" finger-powered steering gestures to navigate the vehicle. Flicking a finger up in the air drives forward. Flicking down backs up. Pointing left or right veers in that direction. Spreading your fingers apart quickly speeds up, and pinching them together slowly reduces speed. Drawing your finger in a line means iCar is following too closely, while jabbing it repeatedly towards the windshield means "we're going to crash, stop now iCar!" Pointing a finger towards one's mouth flashes the integrated display unit on the windshield and shows the Zagat and GrubHub websites to ward off hunger. Snapping your fingers means "nice job, iCar, we made it, turn off". Here is an initial test drive video of iCar:
Funambol CEO Fabrizio Capobianco, who received his Ph.D. in usability from the University of Pavia, Italy, hailed the iCar as a major transportation breakthrough. "I grew tired of driving my toddler daughter everywhere, " said Capobianco. "The other day, she grabbed my iPhone and mastered it in 10 minutes. That provided the inspiration to add finger gestures to iCar. It's so intuitive even a five year old can give the finger while driving."
iCar standard equipment includes a programmable horn that is integrated with iTunes. Drivers can purchase horntones from the iCar app store to customize their vehicles. Drivers can let their feelings be known with "emot-iCars" e.g. if someone cuts you off, your horn could beep "Hit the Road, Jack". If a ten year old wants to drag race, their horn could play the first few notes of The Car's "Let's Go". iCar also includes internal and external camcorders for hands free video and picture chatting while driving. This enables users to capture fast-action shots of their commute that can be instantly shared via Twitter or Twitpic, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and a variety of IM clients and Vlogs. iCar's integrated display unit can also project Facebook, Twitter and other social networking content on vehicle windows to entertain passing motorists.
iCar v1 has a few minor differences from traditional vehicles. It only operates for 15 minutes without replacing batteries. It is certified to drive on a few toll roads. Operating iCar elsewhere voids its warranty. The iCar engine compartment is hermetically sealed and can only be worked on by genius technicians at iCar dealerships. This is because the iCar is not built with any industry standard parts which makes understanding it difficult.
Pricing and Availability
The Funambol iCar starts at $39,995. iCar Pro (which includes seatbelts and chrome hubcaps) starts at $44,995. Batteries not included. It follows on the heels of last year's highly publicized Funambol iPhone interface makeover that was introduced on April 1, and as such, iCar will also only be available on April Fool's Day.
Microsoft also today announced its highly anticipated MiCar. The MiCar not only lacks a steering wheel, it has no wheels, period. In initial test drives, MiCar was completely immobile yet still managed to crash. It is available in one color only, "Death-Screen Blue." When a driver enters, a paperclip appears and says: "It looks like you are trying to drive, would you like some help?" When pointed out to the Microsoft MiCar product evangelist that MiCar had no wheels, she explained that it was the greenest car on earth with a zero-carbon emissions footprint. MiCar pricing starts at a few hundred dollars less than iCar. In a forthcoming promotional stunt, Microsoft hired actors to pose as car buyers and pretend to be happy to buy MiCars because they are not cool enough for iCar.
Funambol is the leading provider of mobile open source vehicles, as well as push email and sync software that works with billions of phones. If you want to try it for free (on cell phones, not cars), please visit http://www.funambol.com. You can follow Funambol on Twitter at http://twitter.com/funambol.