Cutting-edge technology usually takes a while to trickle down to the masses.
Anti-lock brakes and multiport fuel injection are two examples of features that are now standard equipment on most new cars and trucks sold today - but that were unavailable to all save the very affluent before about 1985.
Currently, satellite navigational systems such as those offered by General Motors and Acura likewise remain limited in their availability - at least insofar as original equipment goes.
However, the aftermarket has an alternative: Philips Car Systems' CARiN 520 interactive navigational computer and display monitor that can be installed in any vehicle from a lowly Cavalier to a beefy 4x4 truck.
The system is being offered directly by Philips Electronics - a name well-known to those familiar with the electronics industry. The company introduced the first car radios in 1934 and today continues to manufacture audio systems as well as components for air traffic control systems.
"CARiN" is an acronym - sort of - for Car Information and Navigation; clumsy but kind of captivating nonetheless. BMW installs a licensed version of CARiN in the automaker's 5-and-7 series passenger cars, with the CARiN 520 designed specifically as an aftermarket add-on for vehicles not originally equipped with a satellite navigation system.
The aftermarket version is being sold directly by Philips Car Systems at 64 Perimeter Center East, Atlanta, Ga. 30346-6401. Phone 770/821-2400 for more information. Like the factory-installed Acura and GM systems, CARiN 520 uses a "dead reckoning" internal gyroscope and data received from the 24 Global Positioning System satellites in geosynchronous orbit around the Earth to monitor vehicle position in relation to surroundings and direction of travel. CARiN 520 then compares this data to map information stored in CD-ROMs to plan routes and guide drivers to their destination.
The system includes a liquid crystal display (LCD), navigation computer, and remote control keypad for punching in instructions.
"We believe CARiN 520 will energize the vehicle …