Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


A System to Prevent Traffic Jams

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:43 PM on April 27, 2012

Honda We’ve have all been in one either as a driver or as a passenger a traffic jam. Sometimes they are caused by an accidents, but many times the cause seems to be a complete mystery. These are known as shock wave traffic jams and are often caused by drivers braking or slowing down causing a ripple effect behind them. Most of the time they clear out quickly but they create a wave-like an effect, traffic bunching up, than clearing out, then bunching up again.

Scientist had known about this phenomenon for quite a while, however finding a solution has been much more difficult. Changing people’s habits is never easy especially when they don’t think they are doing anything wrong. Someday we may have driverless cars like the one Google is testing, but until that day Honda is trying something different.

Honda is trying a system that encourages drivers to change their habits by a system of color codes. Honda hopes to use these color codes to help the driver drive more smoothly. This will help cars behind it from bunching up. At this time the system is single car only, but they do hope to link it to the cloud so cars can talk to each other. Right now in initial test the average speed increased 13 percent and fuel savings by 5 percent. This system will also help to prevent a lot of fender benders.  They plan to do further testing in Italy and Indonesia before they release the system commercially.

The biggest trouble with this system remains the human dimension, after all the system will only work if the driver follows the suggestions. Right now the system is set up so that the benefit for the drivers behind the person using the system. The more cars the system is installed in and the more people follow the suggestions the better traffic will flow.

At The Gadget Show Live

Posted by Andrew at 4:00 PM on April 10, 2012

Gadget Show LiveThe Gadget Show Live bills itself as the UK’s largest consumer electronics event and they’re not kidding. While not on the same scale as CES, it still takes over halls 7 through 12 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. It’s also miles to walk from the train station just to get to the entrance…

The Gadget Show

The day started off well….I met Jason Bradbury, one of the show’s presenters in Starbucks and blagged some free mobile broadband from him (thanks!). We had quick chat about the state of mobile broadband and he thought that Three’s MiFi was the one to get.

Jason Bradbury

Inside the show, there was just gadgetry and gaming everywhere. Check out the Xbox zone with row upon row of Xboxes.

Lots of Xboxes

Certainly 3D TVs were popular but I’d say that audio, and wireless streaming in particular, was definitely the flavour of the month. All the big hitters – Bowers and Wilkins, Sonos, Denon, Phillips, Sony were showing off audio solutions in one shape or form. And the single most common product were the portable vibration speakers – I must have seen about ten different variants.

VW up!

Personally, the best “product” was a test drive in Volkswagen’s new city car, the up!. In this particular test drive, I had drive into a wall. No, really…only the car detects the wall and automatically applies the brakes. It’s a low speed system that works up to about 15 mph and is really intended to prevent those minor fender-benders in slow moving queues.

Quite a few car audio specialists at the show too, including Kenwood and this tricked out VW Scirocco. The matt silver paint was eye-catching.

Kenwood VW Scirocco

On a smaller scale, Jumbo were showing off the modern versions of classic children’s games that are now available for the iPad along with complementary game accessories. I’ll be reviewing the games later on.

Goose

That’s about it as a summary of the day – it was a lot of fun but tiring walking around. I have about 20 interviews from a range of companies that I need to get on-line as well, so expect those to trickle out over the next week or so.

 

 

Terrafugia Has Created a “Flying Car:

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:24 AM on April 5, 2012

“It’s the future – where is my flying car?” Somehow, a lot of us expected that shortly after the year 2000 we would all be living in a world that resembled a cartoon called The Jetsons. We hoped that one day soon we would be making our daily commute to work via a flying, saucer-like, car. This has not yet become a reality.

However, Terrafugia has accomplished something that puts us all a little bit closer to seeing that dream realized. It is a flying car. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. What they have created is more like a plane that you can drive as well as fly. “Flying car” sounds more intriguing, though, doesn’t it?

It is called The Transition. It was designed to create a solution for a problem that many private and sport pilots face. When they want to fly their small aircraft, they must first find some way get themselves to the garage that the plane is housed in. After they land their plane at the next airport, they have the same problem once again. How are they going to get from the airport to their hotel, (or back to their home)?

The Transition is a combination of a small aircraft and a car. It is small enough for a pilot to fit one into the garage at his home. The wings fold up, and the vehicle can be driven on any surface. A pilot can drive the Transition to the airport, put down the wings, and then take it for a flight. When he lands at the next airport, he can fold the wings back up, and drive to his hotel, or back to his house. This saves the pilot the money he would usually be spending on the airport garage that would house his plane. It has been classified as a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).

It isn’t the type of vehicle that is meant for a person to drive around on a regular basis. It has rear wheel drive, and the doors open in an automotive style for easy entry and exit. There are two seats inside, one for the pilot, and a second one for a passenger. It has modern glass avionics, automotive crash safety features, and a full vehicle parachute that can be used if needed.

The Terrafugia website says that it takes about 20 hours of flight time in a Transition-specific course for a person to be certified to drive / fly one. You will need to have at least a Sport Pilot license to fly a Transition. The company is anticipating that the base price for one of these amazing, transforming, vehicles is going to be around $279,000.

At this moment, there is a backlog of orders for the Transition. This is either the first “flying car” that will be sold to the general public, or, it could be a functional version of those transformer toys we all played with when we were little kids. Either way, it’s still pretty exciting!

Suzuki & Garmin Team Up For In-Dash Infotainment in 2013

Posted by AndrewH at 1:22 PM on April 3, 2012
Image Courtesy Garmin. A look at the new Garmin 6.1 inch     hi-res touchscreen to be featured in most American Suzuki 2013 vehicle models

Swiss satellite navigation device maker Garmin has teamed up with Japanese auto maker Suzuki to outfit most 2013 American model vehicles with a fairly robust infotainment system featuring a 6.1 inch hi-res touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora radio and, of course, GPS navigation (among other things).

“By leveraging our long-standing experience in developing navigation software, user interfaces and hardware design,” said Matt Munn, Garmin’s managing director automotive OEM, “we created an integrated system that is easy to use and makes driving more enjoyable.”

Garmin’s Suzuki system includes the following functionalities:

  • Media and music integration: Integrated AM/FM radio and CD player with interfaces allowing users to play from external devices such as a mobile phone or iPod, including a USB and AUX jack, Bluetooth and a SD card slot. Pandora supported, as well (via iOS smartphone).
  • Navigation: Premium road guidance with spoken turn-by-turn directions and street names; PhotoReal Junction View with lane guidance; speed limit and current speed displays, millions of points of interest, and more.
  • Full voice control: Users can control the system with voice commands, which helps reduce driver distraction.
  • Connected services: Real-time information, such astraffic, dynamic parking, weather and fuel prices, will be available through Garmin Smartphone Link (added to the system with an update after the initial launch).
  • Backup camera support: Backup camera displayed on the screen, giving drivers better view of what’s behind vehicle.
  • Hands-free Bluetooth: Integrated Bluetooth calling function

This partnership is being seen as a move that could boost both Suzuki and Garmin in different ways. Suzuki, like many auto makers, has seen a rough few years with sales figures tumbling with the auto market. For Garmin, this ain’t their first dance with auto makers, but it is the most versatile device they’ve put out so far – packing several features into one unit.

Either way, the in-car/in-dash infotainment industry is widely viewed as running full-steam ahead as the technology is gathering popularity with more consumers expecting it in higher-end vehicles.

Ford Announces Big Update Coming to MyFord Touch Owners

Posted by Alan at 1:47 PM on March 5, 2012

Earlier this afternoon Ford announced they will be issuing a major update this week to all MyFord Touch owners.  MyFord Touch is the in-car touch controls that work with smartphones and MP3 players, along with navigation (when included) to improve driving experience and entertainment options while keeping drivers safe from distractions.

According to a press reslease issued earlier today by the auto maker, “Ford is delivering on the promise of the “Upgradeable Car” –  more than 300,000 current MyFord Touch owners will be receiving upgrade packages in the mail this week that include a USB flash drive with updated software for at-home installation, all free of charge”

Features of the new update include faster system response, easier control, tablet compatibility, simpler controls, enhanced voice recognition, and support for Audible audio books.  Those who have cars with built-in navigation will also receive updated map views, more 3D landmarks, richer graphics, and photo-realistic freeway images.  According to Ford, “When you have finished the upgrade, you’ll need to pair your phone, download your phonebook, and re-enter any saved Navigation points. Also, be sure to bring the USB drive back to your computer to confirm your upgrade using your SYNC Owner account.”  The update is completely free.

IONRoad app makes driving with your smart phone safer

Posted by Mike Dell at 10:00 PM on February 23, 2012


Scott Ertz from F5 talked with Ohad Akiva about the IonRoad app. All you have to do is mount your mobile device to a windshield, and iOnRoad will use augmented reality to tell you how far you are away from other traffic and other hazzards. I have tested this app and it does a great job of keeping you on track and away from other traffic. It even works on the snow covered roads in Northern Michigan!

 

iOnRoad has won a CES 2012 Innovation Award. You can find out more at ionroad.com

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Ford Inventing for the Future

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:39 PM on February 23, 2012

Ford-Cmax HybridJeffrey Powers and Andy “Hardhathead” Smith talked to Johannes Kristensson of Ford about the research that Ford is involved in now and into the future. Ford showed off the Evo Concept car at CES 2012. It shows off the technology that they are working on and maybe in their full line of cars five to seven years from now. For example five years ago the idea of the app link was just a dream. The engineers and research at Ford were not sure how they were going to do it or if they could. Today it is what people talk about when they talk about Ford vehicles.

One of the biggest changes for Ford that has happen over the last five years is Ford no longer thinks of itself as a car company, it sees itself as a technology company that also makes the car. The researchers and engineers at Ford get their inspirations from consumers, their colleagues and from other industries. One of the areas that Ford is currently working on is connecting the car to the cloud. They are developing vehicle to vehicle communication. So if the tires of your car hit an ice slick, that information can be communicated to the cars around you, or your car could get a message from a stop light telling you it’s about to change and you need to be prepared to stop. These are just a few examples of what Ford is working on for the future. Ford has been around now for over a 100 years, and I believe that Ford is innovating more today then it has for a long time, perhaps since Henry Ford was in charge.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy HeadHardHat Smith of RVNN.TV

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Ford Focus Electric

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:37 PM on February 23, 2012

Ford Focus Electric Vehicle Ford showed off the Focus Electric Vehicle at CES 2012. Instead of starting from scratch, they took a vehicle that was both familiar and popular with the consumer and the critics and turned it into an electric vehicle. Unlike many of their competitors electric cars which can take up to 8 hours to do a full charge on a 240 volt system. The Ford Focus Electric Vehicle can do a full charge in three to four hours. The addition of MyFord Mobile allows you to control when your car is charging from your computer. So you can charge your car during off-peak hours and stop and start it when you want too. Another third-party that Ford has partner with was MapQuest. So now you can map your trip on your computer or tablet and send it to your car so it there when you are ready to leave.

It can get from 75 to 100 miles per charge and reach up to 100 mph. Ford has placed two battery packs in the car one behind the rear seat and the other under the floor panel in the rear. This allows for maximum capacity while not taking up room where the consumer may want it, such as the trunk. The batteries are encased in steel and protected by the car itself. Ford did a lot of testing to make sure they were safe in case of a crash. This vehicle is made mostly in the U.S. The Michigan plant that is building the powertrain for the Ford Focus Electric Vehicle also builds the powertrain for other vehicles. Ford continues to invest in technology of the future.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine

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Mavio Connects Non-Connected Cars

Posted by Alan at 7:57 PM on February 20, 2012

These days everyone is dreaming of high-tech cars, but not everyone wants to buy, or can afford, a new car.  Mavia is a new car interface that plugs into the diagnostic port of your existing car (1996 or newer) and brings most of that modern technology along with it.  It can geo-locate your car and there’s an app for your smartphone to control everything.

Mavia can not only diagnose or warn you of some car problems, but it can also connect with services like Facebook and FourSquare and alert you when you are in the area of one of your friends.  It can be set to let you know when you are near a location that sells something on your shopping list,  It can even notify you when your teen driver leaves a certain range, or just where they are period.

Mavia runs on the cellular network, but there is no monthly fee because it is subsidized by advertising.  The product is still currently in Beta and there’s no price point as of yet.  You can check it out at Mavizon.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Built To Tylt Designs for Smartphones

Posted by Andrew at 9:07 AM on February 1, 2012

Built to Tylt logoAt CES‘s Digital Experience, Andy talks with Built To Tylt about their funky designs for smartphones and other portable gadgets. Check their website as these guys have got some great stuff.

The Tylt Band is a smartphone car charger made of a colourful flat silicon rubber cable that is nearly impossible tangle. Micro-USB and Apple connectors are available there’s an extra standard USB socket near the base of the cable for plugging in another device.

Tylt also have two portable battery packs, the Zumo and the PowerPlant, with 1500 mAh and 5,200 mAh batteries respectively. The Zumo is intended for the emergency smartphone charging, whereas the larger PowerPlant can part charge a tablet or recharge a smartphone several times.

Finally, if you are an iPhone owner, you might be interested in Tylt’s new iPhone cases, one of which comes with a lens cover to protect the camera and another that has a built-in kickstand (kickband?) to angle the iPhone for movie watching.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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