Archive for category Car Gadgets

How Lamborghini Celebrates a Birthday

Happy 50th birthday Lamborghini! Yes, these sleek speed machines have graced roadways – and garages of the rich – for five decades. In very Automobili Lamborghini style they are pulling out all the stops to commemorate their anniversary. And I mean ALL the stops. Unveiled this week prior to the start of the Geneva Auto Show was the Lamborghini Veneno, a $3.9M supercar. (And you thought your friend’s 50th surprise birthday party was a hefty expense.) Only three Veneno’s will be produced for sale. Once you get done dropping expletives read on to get the details of what a $3.9M supercar entails.

First look under the hood. Patterned after the Aventador, the 6.5liter V-12 engine and 740hp will get you 0 to 60 quicker than a sneeze. It tops out at an impressive 221mph. The design definitely turns heads. Carbon fiber galore means emphasis on aerodynamics and downforce – afterall the last thing you want is your multi-million dollar car to fly off the road when you accelerate. Even the interior contains carbon fiber. Trim accents will be in green, red or white (get it – Italian flag). So each of the three produced will be completely unique. Now hold on to your checkbooks. Three lucky buyers have been confirmed and the model in the picture is museum bound. Sorry to burst your bubble. But the Veneno sure provides a fun way for us to “oooh” and “aaahh” and is certainly a fitting tribute for one of the most technologically advanced auto makers.

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Get Help When You Need It

Cellular technology obviously provides many many advantages to our lives. We stay connected wherever we go enabling us to check on our personal and business affairs. Heck we can even keep tabs on our homes when we are away. And though some don’t like the ability to always be found there are definitely circumstances when being found can literally be a lifesaver. Many newer model cars sold in the US come equipped with OnStar or another automatic response system which has proven incredibly helpful for anything from locking keys in the car to finding stolen cars to communicating with emergency services, all thanks to cellular technology.

If you have an older model car or did not ante up for the add-on service when you bought your car, check into splitsecnd, $199.95 plus $14.95 a month. This little device can be a lifesaver. Plug into any car with a cigarette lighter or 12V DC socket. splitsecnd contains an accelerometer and GPS. When it senses sudden changes in speed and force it determines your location and calls the splitsecnd emergency response center where an operator will confirm what help the driver may need. In addition, they will alert whoever you list as your emergency contact. splitsecnd works wherever you have cellular coverage – about 96% of the US – and must be plugged in to work. If you currently charge any devices in that socket not to worry. Use the built-in USB port to continue. And if you choose, download their app and track the location other splitsecnd users. For those in your life that you truly want to keep safe make the investment. You won’t regret it.
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Audi’s “Lighting Technologies of Tomorrow”

As previously mentioned, automakers unleashed some tech-y concepts at CES. The autonomous/self-driving cars were a hit. Announcements about the future of in-car technology gave hopes of integrating smartphone-like features into our cars. Audi made a splash with their lighting concepts too. If the picture included above makes you curious, please read on.

Audi was the first to use full LED headlights and have since made them more distinctive looking. Drive towards a current Audi model at night and you can’t mistake their headlights with that sort of ‘angel wing’ look. This year they will launch their Matrix LED headlights – which sub-divide each LED beam enabling more lighting or dimming per situation and also incorporate a camera. Imagine the car sensing an oncoming car and automatically dimming the headlights. The Matrix LED lights will make it happen.

With continued advancements in LED technology and even OLEDs you know Audi has some things on the drawing board too. Shown at CES was the concept car above. Not only do the lights look cool but more importantly can provide more safety. Audi is working more and more to enable lights to react to surroundings and be controlled electronically. By enabling lights to react to circumstances theoretically they will be seen further away and through elements the and safety will be increased. See the video below for an example: an OLED-Laser beam tail light. Another OLED technology shown incorporates a thin film of them on the surface which could light up under various circumstances. Maybe as the driver gets near it lights your way to the door. The Swarm (right) will also offer a ‘uni-light’ concept on the rear lights where the lighting sort of swims based on the cars action. Left turn means the Swarm piles to the left for example. Quite a concept for sure.  Face it, right now the lights just look cool, but if safety and practicality come into play they may be onto something. Stay tuned to see where Audi takes their creative automotive lighting.

Thanks: FastCo Design, Inhabitat
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Cars That Keep Up on Technology

Automaker presence at CES was huge this year. All the big players showed off the latest in technology having to do with cars. Wireless charging, cloud based services and even self-driving cars became highlights and are continuing to draw attention at the North American Auto Show in Detroit this week. Yet the dilemma with cars is how to keep the technology fresh. If you have a 10 year old car odds are high that much of the technology in it is out of date (like the cassette player in the 2002 I just sold!).

Ford and General Motors recently announced programs that may enable in-car technology to keep up with other technologies in our lives. Both auto behemoths kicked off programs that will open their technology designs to developers. Sort of a semi-open platform approach. Thought is that developers can help create applications to help use the assets the car has while keeping up with needs of the owner. Imagine being able to program radio button 1 to accept voice commands about which playlist to use from your synced smartphone. Or perhaps you can’t travel long without a pit stop. Maybe you should program the car to pull up the nearest restrooms when you utter the term ‘bathroom.’ It would all be possible, and totally dependent on what technologies – perhaps developed for phones or computers – may be popular. The key is the ability to change the use of the cars buttons and features as the technology changes. Gone would be the days of outdated features. You car could meet your technology needs and keep your eyes on the road. We shall see how Ford and GM decide to implement the program, but here’s to hoping that someday our cars meet our technology needs as much as our phones do now.
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Perfect Gift for the Racer in your life: Go faster with Race Capture Pro!


Autosport Labs has done it again: The makers of the Megajolt Ignition System just launched their latest project on Indiegogo: Race Capture Pro! Learn to race faster- Race Capture provides pro-level race car data and real-time telemetry at a breakthrough price.

Packing over 25 channels of sensor data this affordable and powerful data system also features user-customizable outputs to control fans, lights, active aero and more. Unique to this market, the hardware and software are open-source and Autosport Labs allows the customers to determine what they want to log and control as they desire. With 10Hz GPS, precision accelerometer and yaw sensor built in, it will support the addition of real-time telemetry as an affordable option, allowing users to share racing exploits live on the web with their soon to be launched site. All in a compact, rugged enclosure you’d be proud to show off.

Check out their Indiegogo project!

[Press Release]
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So Much More than a Longboard

The concept of an electric skateboard evolved years ago. Seems pretty simple, right? Use push power when needed, but get extra juice going up the hill or longer distances. The challenge has been making the controls reasonable enough to use while cruising at a decent speed.

Congratulations to Boosted Boards for blowing away their Kickstarter fundraising goal and creating the latest generation electric vehicle – what they call the “lightest electric vehicle that has ever been made.” One of the major drivers behind the project is the fact that most of our travel happens within close proximity – a matter of a few miles. Or for those that commute via transit their destination is still a walk away. Boosted Boards provides a low cost, eco-friendly method to get people to their destination.

Shipping in September 2013 is Boosted’s 2000W motor-powered longboard. Max out at 20mph while cruising around town. Conquer inclines of up to 15% with ease too. A full charge on the Lithium ion battery takes only 2 hours and can take you up to 6 miles. Or conserve power and push like a standard skateboard. A regenerative braking system with motor is built-in, meaning your energy and momentum will not go to waste but rather help recharge the battery. Wireless hand controls also contribute to the ride…if you need them. Sure the unit weighs more than an average longboard – between 12-15 pounds – but still a very bearable weight when you need to pick it up.

The price tag is hefty, anticipated at $1,299, but for the right audience the Boosted product will be a no brainer. If interested get in line for a pre-order and Boosted will be in touch as production moves on.
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A Claw for Ice

The Empire Strikes Back is definitely my favorite Star Wars movie. Come on. You can’t tell me that you didn’t shiver up and down as the rebels fought the empire on Hoth. The subterranean cold forced the rebels to come up with a number of different innovations for surviving. Massive amounts of high tech clothing to start. How about the ton-ton? A two legged horse that survives the cold.  In the case of the wampa – the big abominable snowman type thing that hung Luke upside down in his cave – he was cut out for the cold. Fortunately the wampa’s strength was no match for a Jedi.

What better way to prepare yourself for the impending winter snow, than with an arm patterned after that very cold weather being? ThinkGeek has a great solution in the Severed Wampa Arm Ice Scraper. You will look like you can take on the world – or Luke Skywalker – with this furry clawed scraper. The mitten keeps your hand warm. And as the winter goes on and your paw gets dirty just throw the mitten in the washer. You can conquer the ice on the car for just $24.99. So get yourself armed for the snow and ice – and add a little character to your scraping.

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The Quadski – by Land and By Sea

I’ve always been a fan of James Bond, and all his outrageous gadgets. It’s amazing to me how some of these fictional gizmos have actually become a reality in our lifetime. One of my stand out favorites was Mr. Bond’s white 1976 Lotus Esprit amphibious car, I really wanted one of those, and you really can own an amphibious vehicle these days. How cool is that?

Check out Gibb’s Quadski, allowing you to conquer both land and water, with the push of a button. You will feel more than Bond-like as your all terrain wheels retract and you are cruising the waterways at speeds of up to 45 miles an hour. Ready to hit the trails again? Another button press deploys your wheels and you are dripping water and throwing up dust!

The Quadski has a 4 cylinder, 1300cc, double over head cam, 16 valve BMW motor. The vehicle also boasts advanced suspension, giving riders smooth rides over water and rough terrain, and Gibb’s specialized water jet propulsion also provides amazing maneuverability  at both low speeds and reverse and can also provide all the power you need  to cruise at planing speeds. Wa-hoo!

Weighing in at around 1,200 pounds, the Quadski is pretty darn heavy when compared to your average quad. It’s 10.5 feet long, 5.2 feet wide, and 4.6 inches high, with a 5.9 foot wheelbase. Obviously the Quadski is no toy, it is definitely a rough and tumble jet powered personal watercraft atop a killer ATV.

The Quadski has been announced this month and there has yet to be a definitive price listed, but my research tells me that we’re probably looking at somewhere in the $40,000 range. Perhaps expensive for an ATV, but thats not really what this is… is it?  Didn’t think so.
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See Through Technology – Real X-Ray Vision!

In one of our cars we have that annoying little back-up beeper, you know the one, it senses if anything is behind your car and emits a faster and faster beep tone the closer you get to running whatever it is over. The other car has a backup camera, much less annoying, and it has in fact, prevented me from running over my father in the driveway more than once. This next item may make both of those totally obsolete…

Check out what researchers at Keio University, in Japan, are working on, a system that by means of something called optical camouflage, will make the backseat of your car appear invisible (wish that existed on the night of my senior prom) Anyhow, the technology isn’t new, the concept was developed by Susumu Tachi and his colleagues, almost 10 years ago and works by capturing footage from behind an object, and then transmitting that footage onto the object itself. Check out Tachi’s invisibility cloak HERE.

This tech has now been integrated into what is being hailed as a see-through Prius which is going to be shown at this month’s Digital Content Expo in Tokyo, Japan. This nifty little Prius actually gives it’s driver the feeling of operating a vehicle that is made of glass. Researchers have now modified that idea to perhaps create a new safety feature in our cars. It appears that a display attached to the driver’s headrest might someday project what was visible behind the car onto the back seat making the backseat seem invisible. Awesome.

I’m all for a little augmented reality in my car, and anything that replaces the annoying beep alert is tops in my book, and while a good old fashioned head turn used to be good enough, I do see some real benefit to really being able to see behind my car. Hey dad? Where’d you go?
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Lavazza makes Coffee for your Fiat

I know I am not alone when I tell you that I can’t even begin to engage my brain in the morning without a cup of coffee. Okay, truth be told, it’s two cups of coffee and without it, everyone knows to not even talk to me. I often wonder how caffeine-free people make it through their day, or how they get anything done. One of these days I’m going to have to quit drinking coffee, but it’s not going to be today!

Especially since Lavazza (famous coffee maker) is making the first ever car coffee maker, to be offered as an option on the brand new Fiat 500L. Imagine, cruising down the road, with the aroma of freshly brewed espresso wafting through your luxurious new Fiat. With your brew bubbling right between your front seats, and plugged into its very own power source, you will have everything you need to keep you going.

Called the “coffee experience kit” it comes with two auto friendly cups, an espresso making base with a spoon and sugar holder (no word about milk or cream) Simply snap the new Lavazza into your Fiat’s secure center docking station and let Lavazza work its magic as your coffee pod is steeped in perfectly heated water, making an awesome cup of fresh espresso. Who needs Starbucks’s?

Well, I guess I do. While it seems like the new Fiat will soon be available in the U.S., it doesn’t look like the Lavazza coffee maker will be an available option for us. It appears that our sue-happy society (think McDonalds coffee on lap disaster) has got corporate attorneys too nervous to let us actually have an on-board coffee maker, but I’m not going to count out finding a retrofit kit on e-bay and hey, espresso is small darn it, I can drink it at a red light, as soon as I’m finished making my calls, putting on my make-up and finding a good radio station. For those that can, the kit is expected to be around 300 bucks and the new Fiat to go with it, $22,500.

source: usatoday.com

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