Last month's Convergence 2000 marked a milestone in the 26-year history of the biennial meeting of the minds between automotive and electronics folks. A move to the roomier quarters provided at Detroit's Cobo Center (from its former digs in suburban Dearborn, MI) saw attendance double to more than 10,000 attendees over the exhibition's three days. The event offered 13 technical sessions and more than 75 technical papers, along with 176 exhibits by makers of software and hardware and telematics content aggregators. WAW offers here a brief glimpse at events on the Convergence show floor and conference rooms Oct. 16-18. For a fully expanded view of the conference, please visit our website at www.wardsauto.com and click on the Convergence 2000 button.

Not all the news coming out of Convergence 2000 relates to the emerging market of telematics. Delphi Automotive Systems will supply a smart occupant-sensing system for the 2001 Jaguar XK Series and four other Ford and Lincoln Mercury vehicles.

Delphi says its Passive Occupant Detection System (PODS) is the first weight-based sensing system of its kind to reach the market, even before federal regulators set requirements for new smart restraint systems.

"If the seat is empty, the air bag will not deploy at all. All of this is done without any interaction from the driver or passenger. No switches. No chance of somebody forgetting to make sure the air bag is on or off," says Delphi Chief Executive J.T. Battenberg III, who was this year's Convergence chairman.

The Delphi chief also discusses his company's link with Palm Inc. and the Mayfield Fund to launch MobileAria, a new company that will provide mobile Internet services through a universal platform. The system is voice-activated, minimizing distraction for drivers.

"The initial MobileAria offering, available by the second quarter of 2001, will include wireless Internet access to applications like e-mail, desktop synchronization, news, weather, stock quotes and much more," Mr. Battenberg tells journalists.

MobileAria content first will be available through Delphi's Communiport Mobile Productivity Center, which will be available for sale before year's end. It only works initially with Ericsson cellular phones, but Delphi plans to make it work with other phones in the near future. Almost 9 million people own a Palm personal computer, Mr. Battenberg says.