Tag Archives: car

Wireless Charging



I‘ve always been a bit on the fence when it comes to wireless charging. The wireless charger itself still needs to be plugged in with a wire.

Back in October I ended up buying a Samsung wireless charger when I upgraded phones. I ended up using it a bit, but generally found that it was more desirable to physically plug my phone in at home in order to take advantage of the super fast wired Samsung charging. The wireless charging process was not as fast and therefore not as convenient when needing to give the phone a quick 10 or 15 minute juice-up.

So, the wireless charger mostly sat unused.

Recently I bought a new car, a 2017 Toyota Yaris iA. The new car has a space in front of the gear shift in the mid center stack perfect for a large phone that includes USB and a 12-volt power socket. I found myself wondering if I plugged the Samsung wireless charger into a 2.1 amp-12 volt power source, would the wireless charger work properly or not.

I experimented and found that the wireless charger works perfectly well with a 2.1 amp 12-volt power source. The next steps were easy. I used a quantity of the rubber grip mat stuff to make the forward slanted phone area flat, and plugged in the Samsung wireless charger. Since the 12-volt socket only has power when the car’s ignition is turned on, I can simply leave the 12-volt charger plugged in all the time just as if it were in my house connected to an AC power source without fear of it running down the car’s battery.

When I get in the car, I simply lay the phone on the Samsung wireless charger and as soon as the ignition comes on while I’m driving the phone is charging without me having to futz around with plugging wires in. Also, the phone connects to the car’s audio system via stereo Bluetooth, making for a 100% seamless experience.

My conclusion is that wireless charging is most useful in an automotive environment, provided that there’s a flat, convenient area for the wireless charger to rest and the power socket is tied to the car’s ignition.


Thinkware F800 Dash Cam Wins CES Innovation Award



Dash cams are a big growth market at present and there’s plenty of innovation in the space from both established automotive brands to new tech startups. The team at Thinkware have innovated with the new F800 Air connected dash cam, borrowing ideas from the Internet of Things to make a “smart” dash cam.

To start with, the F800 Air can text emergency contacts when it detects a crash or collision, much like some of the manufacturer units. Obviously the F800 can be installed in any vehicle, not just a new one. Next, the dash cam constantly monitors the vehicle while parked and notifies the owner via text if there’s any untoward movement such as a door being dinged. Finally, upcoming F800 features will support geo-fencing and driver assessment, which is perfect for the parent who wants to loan their vehicle out to son or daughter and check that they’re driving safely.

Thinkware stated, “With the innovative ‘connected car’ technologies, the dash cam will take on an important role in providing both driver convenience and safety and the continued evolution of the capabilities of the dash cam seem boundless with IoT.

The F800 Air looks much more stylish too with the camera housed in an aluminium pod to one side. All this tech and good design means that it is a worthy winner of a CES 2017 Innovation Award in the car audio/video category. The dash cam is in the final stages of development and is expected to be available in 2017, but no price has been confirmed.

If you are at CES this year, the Thinkware F800 is at Sands Expo, LV.2 Booth 42572. Check it out.


Prevent Car Theft By Storing Your Keys In the Microwave



MicrowaveThere’s plenty of good advice out there that can help you prevent car-related theft. Park in secure, well-lit areas, Make sure you always keep your windows rolled up and doors locked when you’re away from the vehicle. But police have some new advice when it comes to keeping your vehicle secure. And it’s not like any we’ve seen before. Authorities are now advising owners of keyless fob-style car door openers to store their keychains inside appliances like microwaves and refrigerators.

Apparently, thieves are ditching the crowbar approach to breaking into cars and instead using high-tech methods to gain entry into vehicles:

A recent alert from the department warned of a growing trend of car thieves in California using an electronic device called a power amplifier, which allows them to easily unlock vehicles and quickly pillage them for valuables. According to the alert, the amplifier takes advantage of the radio communication between the cars and the key fobs used by owners to lock and unlock vehicles.

If the methodology behind the crime seems wild, the best way to prevent it may seem even stranger:

According to the department’s alert, one of the best ways to guard yourself against these would-be hackers is to keep vehicle keys in a place that blocks radio frequency signals, hence the advice to store keys in a microwave. The statement also suggests storing keys in the fridge, a metal box, or a specially made Faraday Cage—which can cost anywhere from $25 to more than $300 online—to thwart the high-tech car burglars.

So there you go. Next time you come home from running errands, be sure to place your keychain inside the microwave. Just make sure you take the keys out before you heat up last night’s leftovers.


College Students Build 1,215 MPG Vehicle



Cal Poly logoI know that “local news” isn’t exactly what Geek News Central fans are after. But when I saw this particular item, I couldn’t pass it by without mentioning it here. I live in the city of San Luis Obispo (SLO) on California’s Central Coast. SLO is home to California Polytechnic State University, Cal Poly for short. The university fosters a “learning by doing” mentality that helps students build skills in everything from agricultural sciences to aerospace engineering. One group of Cal Poly students earned some notoriety recently when they competed in a vehicle design competition where they built a prototype capable of getting 1,215 miles per gallon of fuel.

The team of students competed in the 10th Annual Shell Eco-Marathon Americas. The event describes itself as:

In 2016, Shell Eco-marathon Americas celebrated its 10th edition with 124 teams from seven different countries in Detroit, USA. In April 2017, the competition comes back to the Motor City with the energy efficiency driving challenge.

The Cal Poly team’s prototype vehicle design came in third overall, and placed the highest among teams from the United States (two Canadian teams placed ahead of them). The vehicle is a single-person, very sleek, aerodynamic, low-riding three-wheeler. It’s definitely not street legal but that’s not really the point. The Eco-Marathon is meant to challenge participants to build vehicles that are as fuel efficient as possible.

The Cal Poly group’s prototype vehicle was designed in the same spirit as Solar Impulse. It’s not so much something you can use today for getting around. But it shows there is real potential for energy-efficient forms of travel.


Wearable Technology Show 2016



Wearable Technology Show 2016Earlier this week, GNC visited the Wearable Technology Show in London, England, to check out the state of this developing area. Part trade show and part conference, this was very much B2B territory with “I’ll give you a call next week” and “I’ll send through an NDA” being heard on more than one occasion. Although not a big show, covering only two halls at ExCeL, it incorporated IoT Connect and Augumented Reality VR. There was a strong international presence with exhibitors from Spain, Finland and China, and one person commented that he felt this was probably the #4 event after CES, IFA and MWC, which puts it in illustrious company.

Bonnie Binary Embroidered JacketThere was an interesting range of exhibitors from the big names like Samsung and TomTom to small entrepreneurs looking for help to take their products to the next level. Check out this embroidered jacket from Bonnie Binary with lights and controls sewn into the coat.

Jaguar were there showing off the F-PACE, a performance SUV stuffed with technology. Prices start from GB£35,000 but the First Edition model at the show was nearly twice that at £65,000. Jaguar F-PaceIf you’re wondering how this ties in with wearables, the car comes with a waterproof “activity key” wristband that replaces a traditional key fob. The car can also detect when the driver is tired and suggests taking a break. Stunning looking car.

Infi-tex Pressure Sensing ClothSmart fabrics were much in evidence too. With perhaps the longest track record in the industry, Infi-tex had a cloth that could do multipoint pressure sensing. See how the peaks correspond with the pressure from the fingers.

For the first time I left my trusty Olympus digital voice recorder behind and relied on my OnePlus 2 smartphone with IK Multimedia’s iRig Mic Cast and Sony’s Audio Recorder app for interviews. The iRig seems to cope with the background noise well and Audio Recorder records 44 kHz, 16 bit WAV files and I’m hoping that this will reduce the processing time for each interview. I bagged about 25 interviews and these will be pushed out over the coming weeks.

Watch this space!


iOttie Qi Smartphone Wireless Charging Solutions at 2016 CES



iOttie Daniele Mendez interviews Andrew Moughalian about iOttie wireless charging and automotive mounting solutions. The iOttie iON Wireless Qi Charging Receiver Case Charger Cover is a sleek case for the iPhone 6s/6 that adds Qi wireless charging. It is available now and sells for $49.

iOttie also sells the iOttie Easy One Touch Wireless Qi Standard Car Mount Charger that will work with a variety of Qi wireless charging-enabled smartphones. It offers an Easy One Touch lock and release mounting system that locks the device into the holder with just the push of a finger. It sells for $69.95 and is also available now.

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Drust Helps You to Become a Super Driver at CES



Drust LogoThere’s much talk these days about the so-called “connected car.” And while much of that talk focuses on things like smartphone integration, there’s much more to it than that. Modern cars have a built-in diagnostic port that transmits all kinds of data to connected devices. Typically, these devices are only accessed by mechanics, who use them to run tests and gather information on your car’s hardware and electronics. But what if you could access and use some of that diagnostic data yourself?

Scott stopped by the Drust booth to speak with Michael Fernandez, the company’s CEO. Drust makes a dongle that connects to your car’s diagnostic port. The dongle then communicates with a smartphone app to give you information about your car. Drust tracks your fuel usage and gives you tips on how to optimize gas pedal usage to make you a more efficient driver. It also helps to track preventative maintenance needs like oil and fluid changes. Down the road, Drust might even be able to help you lower your auto insurance rates. The product is currently available in Europe at a cost of 119 euros. The Drust smartphone app is a free download for Android, coming soon to iOS and other platforms.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Cobra Dash Cams and Detectors at CES



Cobra LogoCobra Electronics are well-known for their radar detectors and other automotive products. Here at CES, Cobra won the TWICE Picks Award for one of its flagship units, the CDR 855 BT Drive HD dash cam, so Todd Aune finds out more about the latest devices from Mark Karnes, VP of Marketing at Cobra.

On the table are two relatively new devices from Cobra, the CDR 855BT dash cam and the world’s smallest DSP radar detector, the DSP 9200 BT. Starting with the dash cam, it’s a connected device, pairing via Bluetooth with a smartphone to acquire GPS co-ordinates which are then sync’d with the video footage. On top of this, the dash cam can work with Cobra’s iRadar app on the smartphone to know the location of cameras and provide alerts to the driver. The app is shared with the radar detector, so as the detector finds cameras, these can be reported back to the app and then up to the cloud to keep the camera database up-to-date for everyone through the iRadar Community. That’s pretty neat.

Not to be outdone, the radar detector was a CTA Honoree Award for an Intelligent Vehicle Device. The trick in this radar detector is to use digital signal processing to tell the difference between signals from the new collision avoidance systems and law enforcement speed guns. A range of radar and laser signals are presented to the driver as detected, with both visual and audio warnings, and the unit also benefits from alerts provided from the iRadar app on a connected smartphone.

Both devices are on sale now for US$349 for the radar detection and US$149 for the dash cam.

Todd Aune bridges the technology gap with the The Elder Divide.

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Pioneer Brings CarPlay and Android Auto to the After-Market



Pioneer logoPioneer is a brand for well-known for its in-car audio and entertainment systems so it comes as no surprise that the company is bringing a range of after-market units with Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. Todd and Marlo get a demo of the latest product with Ted Cardenas from Pioneer.

On show here is the freshly-announced Pioneer AVH-4200-NEX, which is one of three products which incorporate both CarPlay and Android Auto. As a result, the display and user interface will take on the persona of the connected device. The in-dash receiver connects to the smartphone using a wired connection as the phones contribute heavily to the running of apps. Plugging in the phones avoids issues with data speeds and keeps the battery charged, though Bluetooth is used in Android Auto for calls.

Voice is heavily used by both the driver to control the NEX and for the system to respond. Voice can be used to compose and listen to text messages, to navigate and to talk to Siri or Google Now. This keeps the need to look at the screen to a minimum and enhances safety.

If your current vehicle’s in-car entertainment system doesn’t support CarPlay or Android Auto, the Pioneer NEX range offers a great way to upgrade to the latest auto technology. Priced at around $700, the AVH-4200-NEX will be available in March.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Ford SYNC 3 Drives Choice at CES



Ford LogoThe third iteration of Ford’s SYNC in-car communication and entertainment system, SYNC 3, came into the dealer showrooms during 2015 in the latest “2016” vehicles. At CES, further updates were announced with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration available as a user OTA upgrade. Todd and Marlo go for a ride with Kenneth Williams from Ford.

The new SYNC 3 gives choice to consumers, supporting both iOS and Android. SYNC 3 automatically chooses what to launch based on the connected device, so if the phone is an iPhone, then it’s CarPlay, if it’s a Nexus, then Android Auto. The AppLink technology works with over 90 app providers to launch apps from the attached smartphone but display on the SYNC console. Consequently the owner gets the experience that they’re used to on their phone or tablet.

The AppLink protocol is being opened up and made available to other car manufacturers and Toyota is already on board. It’s an interesting move and could be a major benefit to consumers as it creates a standard in the market that app developers can work to.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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