A new Japanese mobile phone will automatically unlock the doors of its owners’ cars and let drivers start their engines without using an ignition key. The phone, built by Sharp Corp., uses a technology previously developed by Nissan Motor Co. called “Intelligent Key” that allows drivers enter and start their cars without removing their keys from their pockets or bags. Cars equipped with the system sense when the correct key is nearby, automatically unlocking their car doors, and allow the engine to be started once the key is brought inside the car. Nissan said it has shipped about a million cars with the technology in Japan since 2002.
The new twist on this technology is that it is loaded in a phone. The service will work on the mobile network operated by NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile operator. The companies said in a joint press release Wednesday they will display the technology next week at CEATEC, a major technology conference in Tokyo. They are continuing development and aim to bring the phone to market sometime after March of next year.
Skyfire, a Mountain View, Calif., start-up that competes directly with Opera Mobile browser, announced Wednesday the opening of its public beta for Windows Mobile phones. This is good news if you’ve been waiting months to join Skyfire’s impacted private beta program. In addition to going public, Skyfire has upgraded from version 0.6 to version 0.8, a move that brings significant performance improvements and a more fleshed-out start screen design. On the start screen, Skyfire has shifted from a spindly design of bare text links to a fleshed-out look that includes shaded boxes and icons. The headline content–world, business, sports, elections, and a weather widget–is all fed by Yahoo, though it’s not an exclusive partnership.
Vastly improved streaming video quality is another feature that gives Skyfire an extra dose of credibility. Skyfire has introduced SuperBar in version 0.8, a field that combines the address bar and search into one. SuperBar helpfully offers suggestions to complete your query as you type, but unlike Opera Mobile 9.5 beta (which has separate search and URL fields), Skyfire doesn’t remember your URL history. Nevertheless, it’s one new feature that helps elevate Skyfire from a scrawny mobile browser with potential to one that is a viable browser alternative. Skyfire beta is available for those of you in the private beta program through a program update; new users can get it for Windows Mobile phones by pointing the mobile browser to skyfire.com.