Pioneer introduced a hybrid navigation-cum iPod compatible entertainment system at CES.

The AVIC-F500BT is designed to integrate with "virtually any factory audio system", the company said. Maybe. What the system does claim to do is add advanced voice technology for controlling iPods and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones.

"The AVIC-F500BT gives consumers the opportunity to merge their lifestyle products and habits into their cars, regardless of the type of vehicle they drive," said Larry Rougas, vice president of marketing and product planning for the mobile business group at Pioneer Electronics (USA). "It aggregates compatible portable personal devices - whether it's an iPod, an MP3 player or Bluetooth cell phone - and links them all together without having to completely change out the car's entire factory audio system. And with VoiceBox technology, which goes beyond fixed voice commands, the use of these devices in the car is more convenient."

The AVIC-F500BT can operate as both a navigation device and as a media centre, connected to an existing audio system via a line-in jack, the solution becomes a gateway for personal audio and communication devices. Built-in speakers and a rechargeable battery are also provided for use of the system while on the go.

It can handle USB portable devices or music-filled SD memory cards. When a device is plugged in, it recognizes it as a source and controls it through its touch panel display and/or by voice control.

The system offers the company's VoiceBox Conversational Voice Search Platform, which allows users to control their Apple iPod players and Bluetooth enabled phones by voice. The system offers conversational commands, intent recognition, and the ability to screen out background noise.

US-only at present, the AVIC-F500BT ships with mapping data from Tele Atlas for the entire United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii. The 5.8-inch high-resolution WVGA screen shows mapping details with two view modes: overhead and moveable 3D.

Pioneer's new product ships in spring.