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Cell Phone Blocking Is Here: Is That Good News Or Bad News? 23
Jan
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Car Tech, Cell Phone Blocking, Distracted Driving, Kurt, News on 01 23rd, 2012

Scosche Industries' cellCONTROL module. Image: Scosche Industries

Scosche Industries builds accessories for car audio and consumer electronics, and it’s also created the first (that we’re aware of) legal cell phone blocking system. Unlike cell phone jammers (which have existed for years but are illegal for civilians to use), the Scosche system, called “cellCONTROL,” works via Bluetooth and only with a paired phone.

As Autoblog explains, cellCONTROL is a two-part system, requiring both a smartphone app and a cellCONTROL module to function. When the app is installed on a phone, and the module is plugged into the vehicle diagnostic port, all internet connectivity, inbound and outbound calls and texts are blocked. Tamper with the module, and the account administrator will get a text or e-mail message saying the system has been disabled.

Since the system detects when a vehicle is in motion, it’s smart enough to only block calls when the vehicle is moving. Likewise, calls are allowed when a paired Bluetooth hands-free device is detected.

The system starts at just under $130, and we see a huge market for both parents and businesses alike. We say it’s a good thing, since distracted driving is an epidemic that is only getting worse, and this seems like one way of addressing it (at least for new drivers). Sadly, the people who need this the most won’t even consider using it, since they don’t perceive themselves as part of the problem. What’s your take? Is this good news or bad?



BMW Pioneers The Next Advance In Lighting: Laser Headlights 1
Sep
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, BMW, Car Tech, Kurt, Lighting, News on 09 1st, 2011

BMW's i8 Concept, with laser headlights. Image: BMW AG

Automotive lighting has evolved rapidly over the past few decades, making quantum leaps in progress from sealed beam to halogen to high-intensity discharge to LED headlights. Each generation brings improvements in vision, reductions in glare and increased driver safety, but that doesn’t mean automakers are content to leave things status quo or rely solely on third party manufacturers for the next big advancement.

BMW has always tried to innovate vehicle lighting, and they’ve developed features such as their “Anti-Dazzle High Beam Assistant,” which automatically dims high beams for oncoming traffic, their “Adaptive Lighting,” which steers the lights through a corner based on steering angle, and their “Dynamic Light Spot,” which helps illuminate pedestrians to avoid vehicle-pedestrian impacts. BMW has also pioneered the use of full LED headlights, which require far less energy (and therefore less fuel) to operate than conventional headlights.

As efficient as LED’s are, they’re not nearly as bright or efficient as laser diodes. Lasers produce monochromatic (same wavelength) light, and are a “coherent” light source, meaning that all laser light waves have a constant phase difference. Because of their efficiency, laser diodes are significantly smaller than LEDs, and use less than half the energy.

Lasers can pose a vision risk if aimed directly at the eye, but BMW has engineered a solution to this potential problem. Lasers won’t shine directly onto the road, but instead will be projected onto a phosphor-rich material that converts the blue lasers to a white light source, harmless to humans and animals.

Don’t expect laser headlights in the showroom just yet. The technology is still undergoing development, but is showing great promise in both illumination and energy savings. Your next car may not have laser headlights, but there’s a good chance that the technology will be mainstream in the next decade.

Source: BMW



Volkswagen Shows Off Their Temporary Auto Pilot 23
Jun
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Car Tech, Kurt, News, Volkswagen, VW on 06 23rd, 2011

Image: Volkswagen AG

It’s not quite the same thing as Google’s driverless cars, but it’s a whole lot closer to being a reality: Volkswagen has demonstrated a working prototype of a technology they call “Temporary Auto Pilot.” Using a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, cars equipped with Temporary Auto Pilot will follow the posted speed limit, maintain a safe distance to the car in front of them and stay centered within their lane, even on curves. It will function at speeds up to 80 miles per hour, but also works in stop and go traffic (which makes it ideal for rush-hour commuters).

The difference between Google’s driverless car concept and VW’s Temporary Auto Pilot is that the VW system still has the driver responsible for the vehicle. Specific details weren’t given, but it’s likely that VW requires the occasional driver input to avoid sounding an alarm. It may allow you to glance at your e-mail behind the wheel, but I wouldn’t plan of taking a nap on your way to work just yet.

The system is still in the developmental stages, but it’s based on existing technology that could be implemented in the near future. Whether that’s good news or bad news depends entirely on you perspective.

Source: Motor Authority



Ready For Mind Controlled Cars? 23
Feb
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Autonomous Cars, Car Tech, Mind Controlled Car, video on 02 23rd, 2011

Now here’s a really bad idea: let’s develop technology that allows motorists to drive with their brains and not with their arms and legs. After all, most people are totally focused when they’re behind the wheel, and not easily distracted by cell phones, text messages, Twitter feeds, greasy burgers, 55 gallon Uber Gulp drinks or thousand-watt audio systems. Really, what could possibly fail with a driving system that required 100% attention span behind the wheel and took time to process the driver’s inputs? Watch the video below and prepare to be horrified.

Sarcasm aside, this is one more attempt to turn driving into a path-of-least-resistance task with as little human intervention as possible. There are those who’d embrace this technology as a stepping stone to the next quantum leap in transportation, the fully autonomous car. These soul-less individuals have never experienced the joy of a properly rev-matched downshift, and they don’t know what it’s like to have a tuned engine come on cam as you row your way up through the gears, chasing a stream through a mountain canyon. If they get their way, you won’t be able to experience such things much longer, either. I’m not ready for battery powered transportation pods that get me from point A to point B without diversion, and I’d rather drive than spend my time connected to a collective hive-mind. I’m not giving in to our computer powered robot overlords yet, and I hope you’re not either.

Source: Autoevolution



Toyota Launches Entune Infotainment System At CES 2011 4
Jan
Posted by Otto in Automotive, Car Tech, Entune Infotainment System, Ford, News, TOYOTA on 01 4th, 2011

It used to be so simple: cars had radios, and you tuned the dial to the station you wanted to listen to. Then came in car phonographs (really), followed by tape players, followed by CD players. By the time MP3 player integration became standard in all but the lowest end cars, the writing was on the wall: infotainment systems, like Ford’s SYNCH, would become the next evolution of in-car entertainment. Now Toyota is joining the party with the launch of Entune at this weeks Consumer Electronics Show, and the automaker is clearly determined to one-up Ford SYNCH.

Entune, like SYNCH, works in conjunction with your mobile phone’s data plan, to provide you with up to the minute information on restaurants, movie times, shopping, news or sports scores. IHeartRadio will find you a local station that plays what you want to hear, or you can use Entune to stream Pandora. Want to find the hottest sushi-fusion-greek cuisine place in reasonable driving distance, or are you looking for a vibrating adult novelty shaped like the Statue of Liberty? Bing can help you with that, and Open Table can find nearby restaurants that have available seating. You can even buy movie tickets from the car, just in case that ten foot walk to the box office window tests the limits of your endurance.

Like Ford’s Synch system, Entune will allow uses to interact via a touch screen display or via voice commands. Voice commands will require you to learn Entune’s own unique sequence of commands, which takes a lot of trial and error or a lot of time reading the owner’s manual (like THAT would happen). I haven’t used Entune, but I’ve used Synch, and find the voice commands to be neither intuitive nor easy to remember. Until someone builds a system that will recognize a command like “tune to XM, Lithium” or “find the nearest Starbucks”, voice command systems will never live up to their hype. I promise an unbiased opinion of Entune, just as soon as I can test it out.

Source: Jalopnik







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