IBM and Intel Corp. want to hitch a ride with the auto industry as it picks up speed online. The two high-tech giants announced recently that they are working together to develop new in-car computers to enable automakers to provide consumers with a host of Web-based and wireless services including navigation, communication, and information. Intel will provide high-powered Pentium MMX processors with in-car computing reference platforms designed for multimedia applications expected to be widely used in vehicles in the coming years. For its part, IBM will provide what it calls "pervasive computing" software, a family of systems to manage in-vehicle information. The IBM software will include voice recognition and text-to-speech functions. The idea is to communicate information to the driver and the outside world via the Internet. The new combined technology was demonstrated recently at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. (NADA) exposition. The demo included examples showing potential vehicle malfunctions being detected and diagnosed electronically, with the driver and a service department at a nearby dealer being alerted. Other examples include e-mail, navigation, and accessing information via the Web. "We share a common vision of how in-car computing will enhance consumers' lives by allowing them to safely and more fully utilize their time in the car," says Mike Iannitti, director of in-car computing at Intel.