Entries in car technology (18)


The Cure For Traffic Congestion

New Honda Technology Could Reduce Stop-And-Go Traffic

So let's be honest, even if we love traveling or just driving, no one likes ending up in stop-and-go traffic. Well, it looks like Honda is working on a new driver alert system that could help drivers reduce it or, hopefully avoid it all together.  

Honda researchers are working with the University of Tokyo to develop a system, known as Adaptive Cruise Control, which detects potential traffic patterns and helps drivers adjust to avoid the creation of stop-and-go traffic.

As we know, if one person applies the brakes on a crowded thruway, it will cause a chain reaction.  The Honda system would, hypothetically, alert the driver and coach the driver to give themselves distance from the driver and reduce their speed.  This would then prevent other drivers from hitting the brakes and could keep traffic moving.

It's ambitious, but as a driver you have to be intrigued.  Here's where it benefits you:

"Test results have demonstrated that such a system could increase the average driving speed by approximately 23%. In addition to saving time, the technology can also save drivers gas money. By eliminating the need to start and stop during traffic, the technology improves fuel consumption by approximately 8%," CNet reported.  

For vehicles equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, the traffic feature could theoretically be connected to a cloud-based system to sync vehicles with each other. Very cool.

So while this technology is still a bit in the future, it's good to know of nonetheless.  In the mean time, to check out Hondas in the Buffalo area, visit West Herr Honda on South Transit Road in Lockport! 


Track Your Teen Driver With OnStar

Onstar To Roll Out GPS Tracking, Much To Dismay Of Teen Drivers

For parents out there, now you can quell your anxiety about giving your teen the keys to your car.  OnStar is offering you peace of mind with their new GPS tracking.  

The new Family Link add-on option from Onstar will allow customers to track their vehicles and open up a map and see it's location at anytime.  They can even schedule email or text alerts.  

While some may disagree with the idea, this certainly isn't the first product of it's kind.  Ford's MyKey technology and Verizon's Chaperone have similar functions.  So basically, this technology is here to stay.  

"Last year, we had more than 4,500 subscribers test the Family Link service and they told us it provides them peace of mind by staying connected to their family when they're on the road," said OnStar Vice President of Subscriber Services Joanne Finnorn to CNet. 

If used properly, this could easily be a useful technology.  In fact, there are instances of law enforcement using it to find stolen vehicles.  


Converse With Your Car

iPhone Inspired Voice Recognition Coming To Cars

So most of us have seen voice recognition in cars, and it sure does make things convenient.  However, it's about to get a big boost.  

Nuance, the company behind the iPhone robot assistant Siri, is about to make a voice recognition system with 10,000 voice commands, according to the Detroit Free Press.  Current auto infotainment systems support maybe 50-60 at most.  

"The new systems will enable drivers to make natural-language requests in their vehicles to initiate tasks such as making dinner reservations," said Ed Chrumka, Nuance's connected car manager.

The report also suggested certain auto manufacturers are already on board, though there was no official confirmation as to which one.  

For those unfamiliar with Siri and it's capabilities, watch this demo here.  

Either way, having voice recognition upadted is an exciting venture and we can't wait to see it.


The Ultimate Speaker Mix

Ford Employs Eclectic Playlist To Perfect Sound Systems

So everyone has their own idea of what a "cool" job is.  Universally, we can all agree that listening to music and testing out speaker equipment has to be one of the cooler jobs out there, right?  

Ford has a team dedicated to this and they recently revealed a little bit about the process of testing the acoustics for the new B-Max.  

What's cool to music junkies or even part time music fans is learning about what artists and songs they used to craft the perfect acoustics.  

Ford reported one of the most eclectic line ups ever put together for testing.  The artists they list include Radiohead, The Eagles, Coltrane, the Black Eyed Peas (for bass purposes), and even Vivaldi.  That's probably the only time you'll see The Black Eyed Peas and Vivaldi together again.  

 “The human ear can detect subtle differences in the sound and you can’t beat simply listening to the system for that final tuning. The tracks we use really help identify what needs tuning," said Matthias Terstegge, an engineer on the product.  

What's also great is that  Matthias Terstegge is a musician and sound engineer by trade. Shows a real committment to authenticity that Ford would hire him.  

The team had to listen to the tracks they used over 1000 times just to get the sound right.  It's a safe bet they'll never listen to those songs again.  

The B-Max will feature a Sony Audio system with a 4 x 25 amplifier.  For the newest Ford vehicles in Buffalo, visit West Herr Ford in Hamburg or Amherst.  


Low-Tech Solutions For Your High-Tech Car 

5 "Old Fashioned" Items To Better Your Ride

It's obvious that cars are becoming more technology friendly each year, as are the people who drive the cars.  However, with all the advancements available, sometimes a good old fashioned accessory is best. 

In that vein we present to you, with some help from our friends at CNet, 5 "Low Tech" items that will help your auto experience.

1.  Flashlight

Seems basic, but plenty of people travel without some sort of lighting device.  If you have to change a tire in the dark or anything of that nature, you'll be happy to have a light in your car.  You can go old school, or upgrade to something like the Joby Gorilla Torch Blade: an LED flashlight with flexible legs to place anywhere.  Thanks to CNet for the product recommendation.  

2.  Universal Phone Cradle 

We certainly don't condone smartphone use while driving, but we know it's going to happen. So when you need instant directions, pop your smartphone into cradle and keep yourself safe (or at least safer) when you navigate. Obviously the best practice here to have a passenger handle this for you.   

3.  Jumper Cables

Seemingly obvious, but it doesn't hurt to drive this point home.  You can go basic, but newer sets can include circuitry to help you prevent dangerous misconnections and shorts.  So whichever you choose, be sure you have them!

4.  Portable Jump Starters

Jumper cables obviously require two cars to tango.  So when that isn't an option, portable jump starters are the way to go.  They're more expensive than jumper cables, but it's tough to put a price on bailing yourself out of a jam.  Restart your own dead battery with this handy device.  

5.  Tire Pressure Gauges

Proper tire pressure can affect performance, fuel economy and most importantly safety.  So a good pressure gauge is essential.  You can go digital but an old style one will do just fine too.  

Anything we missed?  Let us know.  Be safe out there! 


The Car Seat That Recognizes You 

Seat Memory Technology Coming to America? 

The car seat of the future may be here soon.  Japanese engineers are working on a seat that operates based on how you sit. Not only could this be a great security measure but also incredibly convenient.  

Here's how it works: A sensor beneath the driver's seat measures pressure at 360 points. The pressure at each point, measured on a scale from 0 to 256, is output to a laptop computer.

In lab tests, the system was able to distinguish six different individuals with 98 percent accuracy.  

In terms of safety, this could prevent a thief from driving off in your car based purely on how he/she sits on your seat.  This could also lead to the elimination of airplane tickets.  Simply sit down and the seat will know if it's your seat or not.  

The same engineers are also testing the same idea on foot pedal pressure.

When will we see it?  Members of the Japanese Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology say it could be in cars within 2-3 years.  The biggest hurdle is now getting an automaker to sign on.  

So this could mark a major shift in manufacturing should it catch on.  Either way it could be pretty cool. Stay tuned for further developments.  


The Smartphone Car Alarm 

Intel Working On Gamechanging Car Security Technology 

Right now when you lock your car and walk away, that's pretty much that.  You really have no way to keep an eye on your vehicle after you step away.  Intel is working on solving that.  

While usually a strong player in the computer game, Intel are currently working on a technology that would allow an in-car security system to alert car owners via smartphone of any suspicious activity around their vehicles.  Great idea right?  

However, the technology goes further than just monitoring.

The system also includes in-built cameras that allow the car's owner to see exactly what's happening in real-time, and to snap stills and video footage to give to the police if required.  Very impressive.  

A further use of this technology could be to connect data to the manufacturer, so drivers can be alerted for performance or maintenance issues.  

No timeline for the release is set, but we are pumped to see this one in action.  Stay tuned for the latest news in car technology! 


Tech Savvy Cars That Won't Break The Bank

The Marriage of Tech-Savvy and Cost-Efficiency

So you're into technology, but you're also into saving money.  Sounds like most of us can relate to that.  With all the amazing new in-car technology coming out, who wouldn't want in on that action?  

Luckily, with a little help from our friends at Cnet, we have a list that allows you to have the best of both worlds.  All these cars have a few things in common:  for one they do not have navigation but they are smartphone friendly.  Second they all include a USB port and blue tooth support.  

So with that we present 3 tech friendly cars that work on a budget.  

Chevy Cruze 

We've covered the Cruze extensively, and there's a reason why.  It may not have in car navigation, but that's ok.  The Cruze is equipped with Onstar and directions are downloaded to the car and show up on the main display.  Throw in bluetooth streaming audio and combine it all with the price tag, and you have yourself quite a deal.  

Ford Fiesta Sedan

Ford Sync. That's all you need to know about this one.  Cnet said, "The voice command is truly excellent, letting you request music playback by name, or saying the name of a contact and having the car dial the associated telephone number."  Sweet right?  So with all that, Ford recently added Pandora integration.  From the tech side, that is pretty tough to top.  

Scion IQ

Pandora integration is available on the IQ as well.  Cnet specifically praised Scion's attention to detail on the Ipod integration.  Plus they offer two different upgrades for the head unit.  Plus with high fuel economy and a fresh design, it's bound to turn some heads.  


Carpool Apps

Three Apps Team Up Drivers Looking To Save Fuel 

So we all know carpooling can help drivers save fuel.  However, sometimes it may not be easy to find someone whose logistical schedule that matches yours.  As with everything else, there's an app for that.

Cnet recently hightlighted 3 carpooling apps that can help match up potential carpoolers.  Each app has it's own unique approach including a network based approach or destination focused.  

Here's a breakdown of each from Cnet: 

Avego Driver: This carpooling app matches drivers with riders in real time rather than scheduling trips in advance. Once a match is made, the app manages pickup and dropoff locations, and automatically divides the cost of the commute across all the riders using micropayments

Carticipate: Schedule or request a ride in advance or simply browse the list of posted trips in your area to find a carpool. The app leaves it up to you to connect with the driver or rider via e-mail and work out the cost-sharing details.  Available for iPhone only at the moment. 

RideRemedy: It's the only carpooling app that lets you look for riders to share a cab.  To use RideRemedy, you need to enter a destination with exact the travel date and wait for the app to try to match you with a ride or passenger. iPhone only as well.  

So with that, find yourself a carpooling companion.  Let us know if any of these work out for you.  


Tweet and Yelp With the New Tom Tom

GPS Device Adds New Social Media Functions 

With the increased capabilities of in car infotainment systems, you had to figure it would spark 3rd party GPS and navigation manufacturers to step up.

It appears that Tom Tom have done just that.  

The new Tom Tom, featuring their Go Live 2353M software, will feature HD traffic updates, Yelp and Twitter integration plus Google search.  The new model will be out this fall.  

The Expedia function looks particularly interesting.  On the Expedia app, ypu will be able to search for nearby hotel rates and read reviews.  The best part, however, is that it will stay up to date on current rates availability. Plus with the Bluetooth connectability, you can make a hands free call to book a reservation.  Not bad at all.  

The Twitter integration will allow for drivers to safely tweet on a roadtrip.  You can automatically check in and tweet your location so your friends can see where you are.  For the social media savvy, this is obviously a huge function.  

There are other functions worth checking out.  Visit Tom Tom online to see more about the device.  Feel free to let us know about any experience you've had with their products.