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BMW’s Ultimate Drive Mobile App Provides World’s Best Roads

Driving has become an experience that causes headaches whenever our GPS indicates us bad roads or when the alternative routes to avoid congested areas are in the works. BMW has tried to solve problems generated by bad roads by creating an app for iPhone and Android devices, which successfully blends technology with driver engagement.

The app is called The Ultimate Drive and it provides the nearest best roads for driving, also allowing drivers to add routes to a database, to which any user of the app has access. A brief tutorial explains you when you open the app how the app works, how to find or add routes. It also alerts you whenever a new drive is added in you are and it features the option to send you favorite routes to an email address or to Facebook, to port the maps to another GPS devices or app.

The Ultimate Drive can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace.

So, what do you think about BMW’s app?

[Source: Autoblog, Photo]

The “Safe” Way to Check Your Phone While Driving

We all know that using mobile devices while being behind the wheel encourages distracted driving. It has already statistically being proven by the increasing number of accidents due to this habit. This is the reason why all over the world governments try to reduce or forbid drivers to use gadgets while driving. On the other hand, there are also initiatives that actually encourage the use of mobile phones while driving a car, by offering some so-called “safe” alternatives. This is also the case of Sameer Desai, one of the persons who had the idea of creating Steer Safe.

Steer Safe is a cradle for your mobile phone that can be mounted on your steering wheel and which makes the use of your mobile devices easier while you are driving. Its producers claim that any phone can fit the Steer Safe and that it can be mounted on any type of steering wheels. Moreover, they claim this is legal, as its use should be limited to when vehicles are parked or stationary. The contradictory part comes when watching the presentation video, in which the device is used, guess how, while driving.

We don’t really know how safe this is. It’s true that looking for a map or watching the navigation device can become easier this way, but who guarantees that each of us will use their mobile phones while driving only for checking a map. Secondly, if even the producers sustain that this cradle should be used only while being parked, while should we need it on our steering wheel in the first place. But maybe this is only our opinion and some of us still find this product useful and, first of all, safe.

What is your opinion about Steer Safe?

[Source: Kickstarter]

Ford Combines Driving with Video Gaming

Many car passionate people enjoy also video gaming. So a combination of these two elements seems to have been the key to a successful Ford campaign. How did they manage this? By organizing a test drive in which car shoppers not only got the chance to drive a Ford, but had also been involved into the production of a real-life video game. Sounds fun so far. But let’s see how Ford has succeeded into implementing this creative idea.

Test driving and simultaneously producing a video game needed the use of a special technology. This is why the engineers from Ford have equipped a couple of 2012 Ford cars with telemetry equipment, have commandeered a parking lot and created a car track with obstacles. Then, all the data produced during the test drive was gathered together through a recording device and, in this way, a video game was produced.

The entire test drive was going as a game, in which players had points to score depending on how they navigate the course, with time lapse being taken into account.

In the video below you can see the presentation of the concept for Ford’s test drive.

What do you think about Ford’s idea: would you like to participate to such a test drive?

[Source: Autoblog]


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Nissan Leaf Gets Android And Blackberry Apps

Nissan Leaf Application

The North American division of Nissan announced a few days ago the launch of an application for the Android and Blackberry platforms that allows the users to check a whole bunch of various statistics of their EV at any time. This clever software permits Leaf owners to start charging their car, check the status of the battery as well as find out the estimated driving range and also launch the HVAC controls before the driver jumps in the car so that the temperature will already be at the desired level.

This software is available for any of you who own a Nissan Leaf as well as an active CARWINGS subscription. If you own an Android smartphone, the version of the operating system has to be at least 2.1 (Éclair) in order to work while for Blackberry users the requirements are at least OS 5.

The Leaf’s main competitor, the Chevrolet Volt has a similar OnStar application but the major drawback in this case is that it’s available only for the iPhone.

As a reminder, the Nissan Leaf comes with an electric motor that has 107 hp and is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. If the batteries are full, the EV offers a driving range of up to 100 miles while the top speed is 90 mph. Filling up these batteries takes up to 8 hours if you use a 200V outlet but if you get a DC 50kW quick charger, you’ll have to wait only 30 minutes or even less to charge the batteries at up to 80% of their capacity.

If you’re interested in the Nissan Leaf, you should know that the price tag for the 2012 model year starts from $35,200.

Source: Nissan via Auto Evolution


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RFID Tag System for Parking

Parking and paying for a parking lot have the gift to give us headaches almost every time when we get the car out of the garage. This is why engineers from the German Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics have come with the idea of creating a RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag system, which to make parking easier and with fewer problems.

This system actually allows drivers to pay their parking fees automatically, by deducting the amounts of money from an online account.

This specific system isn’t the only one of this type: in Singapore already exists an “AutoPass” card, which is inserted into a card reader placed on the windscreen of the car. The card is working easily, by only being scanned whenever you reach a parking lot. In addition, the card can also be used outside the parking lot, in different stores.

As about RFID, the technology is mounted in the inside of the windshield, without intruding your view. The entire device is known as VIATAG and is already in use in Essen, Duisburg and Munich.

What do you think about this RFID tag system: is it safe, is it useful?

[Source: Gadgetizer, Photo]


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Mercedes-Benz Work at Building the Future of Multimedia

Mercedes-Benz are known for their investment in innovation and technology. After many work to get where they are, internet access on-board Mercedes-Benz vehicles was introduced this year. But this was not the moment for them to stop developing their cars. So they’ve came with the idea of holistic and natural interaction. The company has showed at the TecTalk “@ your command” how their engineers think multimedia future would look like in telematics and infotainment.

The result of their vision: a COMAND infotainment with apps, search and advanced navigation incorporated, which offers to the driver the possibility to interact with the system.

How they are going to do that: by expanding voice commands with natural language dictation for different options, such as emailing, text messaging, internet browsing. By simply asking a question, the device tells you exactly what you are looking for. Additionally, the user interface will feature fluid transitions and displays which can be customized for navigation, climate, media control and others.

The surprise comes from the fact that Mercedes-Benz also works on a technology based on handwriting recognition and gesture controls for interior lighting. Cool, uh?

As about the applications, Mercedes intends to introduce Twitter and Facebook into COMAND system too, along with Stitcher radio and Pandora. It will even use Google Street View technology and Panoramio, in order to help drivers find the exactly destination of their journeys.

All these by the end of the year in Europe and probably in 2012 in USA, on SLK, C-Class, E-Class, CLS and M-Class models.

What do you think about these innovations?

[Source: Autoblog, Photo]

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Porsche Guides Your Way with Compass Watch

If you ever felt lost (literally) while driving your Porsche, it means that you need the compass watch that Porsche has specially designed in order to guide your way. It indicates time and direction mechanically and is a two-in-one useful accessory. Actually, the current compass watch is a modernized re-issue of the one created by the designer Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche back in 1978.

The P’6520 Compass Watch is crafted from black PVD-coated titanium and features an automatic three-hand watch face: it has the date function, luminescent hands and the liquid compass. In order to find one’s bearings with this instrument, a scratch-resistant mirror has been installed on the rear of the watch part and on top of the compass. Above all these, it is water resistant to a depth of up to 50 meters too and its bracelet has a PVD coating (Physical Vapour Deposition).

What it’s new to the 2011 compass watch compared to the 1978 edition? A fashionably oversize of 42 mm in diameter (increased by three millimeters than the elder one) and the light non-allergenic titanium (which has replaced the aluminum construction). The titanium also helps the magnetic needle of the compass not to be affected, as titanium is a non magnetic material.

And, not to forget, the entire accessory is designed in the traditionally economical Porsche Design color scheme. Apparently, Porsche Design was the first company in the watch industry to have ever used the color black on a watch back in 1972.

The production of P’6520 Compass Watch is limited to 911 pieces, so you would better hurry up if you want this cool piece of compass watch.

[Source: Autoblog]

How About a Home of Hummers

You know, when you see a Hummer, you kinda get scarred and get the impression that the things would be different if you were the one sitting inside of that car. Now, you could have the chance to actually leave in a house build of Hummers.

Who had this idea? Architects Craig Hodges and HsinMing Fung, who joined forces in 1984 to create the agency HplusF. After working at important buildings and leaving their stylistic print on them, the two architects had the idea of building a HummerHaus using eight identical Hummer body shells, wrapped around a steel skeleton. The result? A lovely and imposing living space; the sheet-metal components of the body shell were structurally sufficient to create such a space.

“Optional geothermal storage tanks, photo-voltaic cells, and soy insulation will complete a sustainable project which has, at its core, the recycling of an automobile plant and the resuscitation of its supply chain.”

For the moment, this is still a concept, but I bet that its inhabitants would feel less fear of thieves.

What other car would you like to see it transformed into a house?

[Source: Dornob]


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Volvo City Safety System is really useful – NHTSA and IIHS support it

Apparently, investing in all the new technologies which to increase driving safety are not a waste of time and resources for car manufacturers. They really work, they are useful and they succeed in protecting drivers and passengers while being in the car.

This is also the case of Volvo City Safety System: National Highway Traffic Safety Institute and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have stated that Volvo’s technology not only that helps, but also prevents accidents that happen at low speed. As about the numbers, City Safety users fill almost 30% less at-fault claims.

For the moment, this safety system is installed only on the Volvo XC60. The system monitors the traffic in front of the vehicle and at a speed of between two and 19 miles per hour the car can apply the brakes. In case the distance between your car and the one in front is nine mph or less, the system will activate the brakes quick enough to avoid the crash. Although sometimes the crash cannot be avoided, at least the damage will be consistently reduced compared to accidents involving cars not featuring this City Safety System.

This is a presentation video:

So, so much noise is not for nothing.

Do you have a safety system installed on your car? Does it help you while being behind the wheel?

[Source: Autoblog]


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Cooling Down your Car with some Personal Touch

It’s not a gadget, it’s not any complicated technology. It’s just your personal touch that can save you from the nightmare of driving during the hot days of summer.

Ok, maybe you’re a little confused! Let me explain it to you: according to a Japanese video, a quick solution to cool down the air inside your car is to roll down one window and to open and close the opposite door for several times. Of course, you have to take care of hands and finders, for avoiding hurting yourself or others.
Like I said, it’s all about your personal touch and the success is guaranteed.

Here it is the demonstration video. Unfortunately, the video is in Japanese, which significantly limits our understanding:

Apparently, the outside temperature was 86.9 F, and the inside temperature decreased from 106.8 F to 92.3 F.

What do you think about the trick: would you try it? If you do, let us know the results!

[Source: Jalopnik]


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Ford Teaches the Blind to Drive

However surprising it may seem, driving has become possible for blind people too: Ford from Europe has organized a test drive with 30 blind and visually impaired drivers in Cologne, Germany. By doing this, Ford has tried to teach these persons about driving, about how to recognize car crashes by sound and for a better understanding of their interaction with cars, from touching to hearing them.

During the tests, drivers had totally control on vehicle’s inputs as they responded to directions from professional driving instructors. The most skilled one (meaning the fastest) got a Ford Fiesta up to 74 mph. According to Ford representatives, all the drivers used only the sound and their feeling when driving the cars and they were doing great.

“In traffic situations, people with visual impairments orient themselves using sounds, so it’s easy for them to misjudge size and speed of cars. (…)We want to help resolve such problems by encouraging greater participation in traffic that can leave us all more enlightened and confident.” said Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, Ford of Europe’s VP of legal, governmental and environmental affairs.

With this test drive, the goal of teaching blind people to drive becomes even more feasible for the car industry. Even if this time human instructions were used, these results are due to the latest technologies and sophisticated sensors which have reached the point in which the sight is not essential any more for driving a car. So, the sight became dispensable, if not the driver himself. An autonomous Audi TT participated to the summit of Pikes Peak; a blind person drove a car during a lap of Daytona International Speedway by only using tactile prompts which were receiving visual information from in-car-technology – those are the proofs of the evolution of automotive industry worldwide.

According to Schneider, by following this direction in the development of auto industry, blind people could be driving cars within 15 to 20 years. This is why Ford also used this drive test as a focus groups for researching blind people’s interaction with cars and their shape (apparently, they prefer round cars rather than angular ones) and in-car controllers.

What do you think about the idea of letting blind persons drive: could this be totally safe?

[Source: Wired, Photo]

Toyota’s Backseat Driver – ToyToyota

The Japanese automaker Toyota knows that cars aren’t a place just for adult people to ride, but also for children. This is why they came up with the idea of creating a more interesting ride for the backseat passengers too, especially for junior boys, who are eager to reach the destination. The result is ToyToyota’s Backseat Driver, a GPS-based app for iPhones, iPods touch and iPads, which creates a virtual drive for children, linked by GPS to your car’s current driving route.

In the video below you can see how it works:

The “innovation” is nothing else than just a casual racing game, in which the player chases a virtual car, called “Papa Car”; meanwhile it picks up points and collects objects.

This device will probably keep your junior quiet for a while and will also prevent him from getting bored. The ToyToyota Backseat Driver will be a free download, and it needs iOS 4.1 or later devices to work.

What do you think: would you take it for your Toyota?

[Source: Ubergizmo]

Anti Sleep Pilot for a safe driving

40% of all single vehicle traffic accidents are caused by drowsy driving, which is really concerning. Consequently, ASP Technology, a Danish company specialized in scientifically-based solutions to help people avoid driving fatigue, has created the Anti Sleep Pilot, a small dashboard gadget which to prevent this type of accidents, caused by tiredness and sleeping behind the wheel.

This gadget can easily be attached to your dashboard and its purpose is not to wake you up, but to prevent you sleeping. It indicates how tired you are by using 26 input parameters, scientifically validated, and will then use lights, sounds and tests to keep you in continuously alert. When your tiredness will reach a critical level, the gadget will alert you and will indicate when you are able to drive safe again.

“It’s clear that we have hit on a problem which is found throughout the world. Driver fatigue causes too many deaths in the UK and the summer is when many families find themselves making long journeys as they go on holiday. By launching the ASP in the UK now, we hope that we can help reduce this sad figure and make motorists more attentive to their tiredness levels.” said Troels Palshof, CEO and founder of ASP Technology.

This is how it works:

We truly believe this Anti Sleep Pilot is a great development and a useful innovation which to increase your safety while driving. It can be bought from Amazon for £129.95.

What do you think about the gadget?

[Source: Pocket-lint]

Live traffic info for Europe – from Google Maps

We were all waited for this and the time to enjoy the change has come: Google Maps offers live traffic info for several countries from Europe. This will allow users to find out how congested a road is when they go into a journey, and Google Maps offers them an alternative route which to avoid the traffic jams where indicated.
The thirteen countries that will beneficiate of this feature are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Israel (even though it’s not part of Europe).

The roads from which the data are collected are freeways and highways as well as larger roads in major cities. It also features an improved street level coverage for British people.

The live traffic info will be available on Google Maps, Google Maps for mobile and Google Maps Navigation (the beta version).

What do you think about this improvement: do you think that it can get real time update with traffic info?

[Source: Google latlong]

Ford Supports Handheld Phones Banning while Driving

In the last period, serious discussions were started about the increasing number of accidents caused by using cell phones without the hands-free system while driving. Consequently, the idea of introducing a nationwide ban on handheld cell phones while being behind the wheel (except in certain emergencies) is actually in the work. Everything seems to be quite important, and it was time for car manufactures to get involved in this legal initiative. The first of them who expressed a position is Ford and it totally supports the cause.

According to Pete Lawson, Ford’s vice president of government affairs, this legislation “represents a practical, commonsense approach to a national problem” and that Ford believed “drawing drivers’ eyes away from the road – whether (by) text messaging, manually dialing a cell phone or reading maps – substantially increases the risk of an accident or near misses.”

This complements Ford’s integration of hands-free calling technology widely in its model range, in addition to SYNC and MyFord Touch infotainment system. However, we congratulate their courage and initiative.

Apparently, General Motors and Chrysler are still waited to express their opinion, as they are both known old supporters of the efforts to reduce hand-held phones while driving.

For the moment, the ban refers only to handheld phones; hands-free systems aren’t included. According to The Detroit Free Press, a study was already ordered to see whether phones are dangerous or not while driving, even hands-free used.

What do you think about Ford’s position on the matter?

[Source: Freep, Photo]

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