Top 5 Car Related Gadgets

ScanTool

What do you do if your car is a bit, well …old? You can buy the latest fancy gadget and totally keep up with the Jones’s next door without having to fork out on an the expense of a new car. Take a look at the following top apps and devices available so that you can modernise your motor even if the chassis might be falling apart.

OBD-II Scan Tool

An OBD-11 scan tool will do what the typical modern mechanic does when he links his scanner to the car’s onboard computer in order to find out what ailments the car has. Of course knowing whether the oil pressure is too low or there is a possible leak in the head gasket is great but it’s another kettle of fish entirely to actually fix the problem.

Simply purchase an OBD-II adapter online and connect it with an OBD-II accommodating car, which is most modern vehicles and you can then use an app such as the Torque Pro, to learn about the state of your car’s health, without the fear that you’re getting ripped off by a mechanic.

scantool.net

Smartphone Integration

If a car has smartphone integration – think certain Toyota models and the Pandora in the US – the information from the driver’s smartphone appears automatically on the dashboard’s LCD screen. The information can be controlled via the car’s instrument panel and some commands are even voice-activated. Sounds a little bit like Night Rider and David Haselhoff!

There are kits available, which will allow you to control your smartphone’s music selection through your car’s audio system and you can even watch videos on the LCD screen.

iCarBlackBox

Motor insurance claims can be drawn-out and indecisive affairs, especially if the ‘other guy’ is wavering the truth about an accident that you were involved in. With the iCarBlackBox you can record such vital information for your insurer’s perusal. Mount your smartphone on the windscreen of your car and when loaded with the iCarBlackBox it will record braking, speed and indicator use, etc. It can even play back the whole accident on video and prove who did what and when.

Could prove an intuitive investment for just 69 pence!

iCarBlackBox

Confused.com Parking app

How many times have we been driving round a city trying to locate a place to park? Such a dilemma recently happened to me in Brighton, where due to an inability to find a car park, I drove around for the best part of an hour and then copped for a £80 parking ticket as I ended up parking illegally.

Confused.com Parking app eradicates such dilemmas. Simply download this app and find the most convenient and least expensive places to park within a city – A potent money – and stress – saving tool indeed.

Parking app

Viper Smartstart GPS

A real James Bond car gadget, the Viber Smartstart does much more than simply directing you to a parking spot. An alarm goes off when you reach certain pre-programmed zones and likewise if you go faster than you should. You can control many of your car’s functions from miles away via your smartphone, such as turn the radio on or open a window.

You can even start your car up in winter from the comfort your eleventh floor apartment and by the time you appear out of the lift the car is warmed up nicely and ready to go! You can even find out if you left a door unlocked. Although these smart little tricks will require an ongoing subscription. There is a basic non-subscription model for a little over half the price as the subscription package, but it only works within the Bluetooth range.

Smartstart

Geneva Motorshow: Best In-Car Entertainment Systems

MWC-Spotify

It’s the Geneva Motorshow this week and rather than bore you with power-to-weight ratios and torque figures of the new cars, we thought we’d round up some of the best in-car entertainment systems that are on show this week. We’ve got cloud streaming from Ford, iPad Minis in Ferraris, and the world’s most over engineered soundsystem in the all-new Rolls-Royce Wraith.

Ford SYNC AppLink

Ford’s SYNC AppLink is the American motor manufacturer’s new futuristic in-car entertainment system, and this week they announced it is making its way to Europe, with 3.5 million Fords expected to get the system by 2015.

Ford announced that their EcoSport compact SUV will be among the first Ford vehicles in Europe to offer their clever SYNC AppLink technology, which sees the car manufacturer partnering up music streaming service Spotify.

Basically Ford, and almost every other car manufacture, is betting that when 4G becomes widely adopted motorist’s will want to use their phone’s mobile broadband to stream music, radio, podcast, and maybe even one day: TV and film.

The Ford SYNC AppLink integration of Spotify is the first proper collaboration with an automotive manufacturer, and will see all future Fords streaming music via the Swedish music streaming service.

By leveraging a smartphone’s capacity to receive a high-speed internet, Ford drivers will be able to control Spotify via either voice-control or physical controls which are located on the steering wheel.

In addition, Ford announced partnerships with Kaliki, Glympse, and Aha who will offer various content services to Ford drivers in Europe.
Kaliki Audio Newsstand provides audible playback of newspaper and magazine articles with radio-talent voices. They’re expanding into European languages with content from news sources like Agence France-Presse and entertainment titles such as: Public and Première.

Glympse will allow Ford drivers to share their location and estimated time of arrival with friends and family, all in real-time on a dynamic map, directly from their vehicle using simple voice commands.

Finally, Aha will deliver more than 30,000 stations of audio entertainment and information to the car, allowing drivers to safely access web-based music, news, their Facebook and Twitter feeds, personalised restaurant recommendations, hotels, weather reports and much more.

LaFerrari

Ferrari

Ferrari wowed the world with their new LaFerrari (yes, the name is terrible, but just look at it). It’s the Italian’s new 6.3 litre V12, 950 horsepower supercar (sorry, but 950 is just too bigger a number not mention). As well as the car the Italian sports car maker announced that they’ve teamed up with the Ferrari of the tech world: Apple, to bring their products to a range of sports cars.

Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo said the company is now “in talks with Apple about broadening a partnership on in-car entertainment.” Whilst that might not sound too concrete just yet, Ferrari also confirmed that its new four seater FF coupe will come with iPad minis for backseat passengers, so they can presumably play Angry Birds whilst traveling sideways in a plume of burning rubber.

Rollys-Royce-Wraith

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce unveiled a brand-new car at the Geneva Motorshow. The Wraith is Rolls’ answer to the Bentley Continental GT. Priced at a sensible £200,000 the credit crunch Rolls is obviously very fast, but we quite like the sound of it’s incredibly over engineered sound system, and something Rolls is calling “the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller”.
Audio experts in stereo and multi-channel audio have specially optimised the bespoke audio system. So – naturally – this means you can enjoy the Dark Knight in 18.1, or you could listen to the Arches in a way you’ve never experienced before.

As well as the usual stuff, the Wraith houses a couple hundred gigs worth of storage for music. Passengers, or the driver, can make music searches via what Rolls is calling “the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller” (you just can’t make this stuff up) where you can search by artists, album, genre, or use the car’s in-built recommendation engine.

But it’s the sound quality itself that places the Rolls-Royce Wraith at the pinnacle of in-car audio. The fully active 18-channel amplifier delivers surround sound through 18 speakers, including two bass speakers in the boot, seven tweeters, seven mid-range and two “exciter” speakers.

Overall the Wraith is chucking out 1,300 watts. But that’s not all: Rolls has included a microphone that measures the ambient exterior noise, then with a digital processing unit uses the information to adjust volume and tone settings, ensuring the system is always perfectly set-up.

Then there’s a system called DIRAC that uses frequency and phase correction for individual speakers to eliminate dead spots caused by reflections from the windows.