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Motorola and Nikko pop a wheelie

It used to be that the idea of controlling a car via the touch pad on a mobile phone was something better left for James Bond to execute. Well, it looks like such high-tech gadgetry isn't just for international secret agents anymore. While it's not quite in 007 territory yet, Motorola is bringing the tech one-sixteenth of the way with its new Wireless Wheels toy.
February 1, 2006

It used to be that the idea of controlling a car via the touch pad on a mobile phone was something better left for James Bond to execute. Well, it looks like such high-tech gadgetry isn’t just for international secret agents anymore. While it’s not quite in 007 territory yet, Motorola is bringing the tech one-sixteenth of the way with its new Wireless Wheels toy.

Teaming-up with the Tokyo-based Nikko Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of R/C toys, Motorola has developed a new R/C adapter using Freescale semiconductor technology for its java-based iDEN cell phones. Attaching the new device to an iDEN handset will transform it into a functioning remote control, enabling kids to manipulate a mini Maserati with a cell phone. The navigation keypad on the handset commands the car’s direction from up to 100 feet away. A push of the talk button gives the vehicle a turbo boost, and as the motor revs and tires screech the handset vibrates and makes noises. The Wireless Wheels adapter is compatible with nine iDEN handset models.

Wireless Wheels wasn’t designed with a set age group in mind, but Motorola expects to sell it to kids of all ages. Parents and their kids can have some fun with their phones and the car and get a feel for Motorola’s technology, Steve Camhi, VP and director of operations for Motorola iDEN mobile devices, explains.

Motorola will begin selling the Wireless Wheels package on its website (www.motorola.com) March 1 and it’s expected to hit the shelves at major electronics retailers in the U.S. later this year. The US$99.00 price tag gets you an adapter, the Maserati, PC software to download into your phone and a USB data cable. A separate controller is also included, so the phone doesn’t always need to be on hand for playtime.

The Maserati is the only model in the Wireless Wheels lineup so far, but Camhi says Motorola is looking at adding other makes down the road. He wouldn’t confirm whether or not there are any additional plans for this technology, but says that other applications are possible. Cell-phone controlled robots, here we come.

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