Posts Tagged automotive gadgets

Let Your Car Talk To Your Phone

Do you know where your OBD port is on your car? All cars in the US (since 1996) and EU (since 2004) are required to have On-Board Diagnostics port enabling the car to point you or your mechanic in the right direction when something is awry. Maybe it will identify a Transmission problem or maybe an emissions issue or something else. Some smart people finally realized that with today’s mobile technology and this OBD port your iPhone can now help communicate car problems – and more

Automatic Labs, Inc. are producing Automatic Link, a device for your car to communicate with you via your smartphone. Plug the gadget into your OBD port and download the Automatic App to your phone. Between the link and its low energy Bluetooth® connection, the app, your phone and its GPS you will enable a number of activities. First, if something goes wrong with your engine and the ‘check engine’ light comes on Automatic will tell you via push notifications. The app even shows diagnostic codes which will help when calling your mechanic. If the issue is minor you can even clear the light. If the Automatic Link accelerometer detects a crash it will contact 911 (where accessible) with your whereabouts and name. It will also text 3 people of your choosing. Automatic Link and App also help you drive. How? It helps you track your mpg and identify things that may help improve it like rough braking, speeding and rapid acceleration.  This friend is tapped in to local gas prices to show what you are spending too. And of course if you can’t find your car Automatic Link and App will guide you. Link units in multi-driver cars can support each person, but each car needs its own device. You can place a pre-order for Automatic Link on their website for $69.95 – a bargain considering what some onboard systems cost to do the same thing. Initially launching in the US, iPhone 4S and 5 versions ship in May with Android options shipping this Fall. Perfect timing as a thoughtful gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays or Christmas or just to treat yourself.
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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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Siri, Start my Car! – Viper SmartStart

Getting the car started certainly wasn’t anything I ever thought I’d like a gadget to help me with. I mean, you get in the car and turn the key, heck, my car doesn’t even need you to use the key, but now winter is coming, and it’s early in the morning and the car is freezing cold, you know, maybe having that baby warm up for a couple of minutes before I get there wouldn’t be so bad.

Check out the Viper’s SmartStart. SmartStart lets you start the car remotely, lock and unlock your doors and quite a few other handy operations, all via Bluetooth connection, allowing you to execute your commands almost instantly. The newest version of Viper SmartStart is now integrated with the iPhone’s Siri, so with just one word you can control your car.

You can put Siri to work by simply saying “SmartStart.” or, you can define a specific command that’s executed when the app gets launched, so even the older SmartStart versions finger taps are a thing of the past. Now we get to enjoy the convenience of fully voice-controlled access to our vehicles, including panic modes and we get to check the vehicles status (a real plus for those of us that always wonder if we actually locked the doors or not). I’m thinking there might be some real safety benefits to something like this as well.

In order to have the updated app work with Siri integration, users must have an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 and they also have to upgrade to iOS 6. For older iPhones that don’t support Siri, drivers can do the same thing, they just have to go back to tapping. Of course you need a complete System, they start at around 400 bucks, and there is a monthly service fee, but you need to check out all it can do at viper.com
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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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