Hardware

Great Outdoors: In Car Diversions

Comment

griswoldswave.jpgWe all spend too much time in our cars and a summer drive can turn into a nightmare with the right mix of traffic, heat, and gas prices. There are industries built around making our in-car time more productive and enjoyable. The degree to which they’ve been successful is debatable. There is something to the argument that every solution creates another problem. For example’ we all want to avoid traffic but can we? Consider this, if everyone had the real-time information about a traffic jam in one location, then everyone who has that information would choose an alternate route. At that point all those vehicles move to this new route, most likely causing another jam.

When new car models come out later this year, the tech in cars will really start to percolate. Some new models will have Microsoft’s Auto operating system. This voice activated system will enable you to control your MP3 player and iPod with voice commands. Then, by next year you can use this application to download your emails and have them read to you. But what does this have to do with summer driving?

Ensuring that you and your passengers get from point A to point B while stopping off to see the largest ball of twine in Idaho is hard work. Here are some gadgets to make that process considerably more comfortable.

Autonet Car Router
autonet.jpg
Soon, (this summer) you can install a rolling hot spot by Autonet Mobile to keep everyone in touch, even the kids in the back seat. This router at $399 plus $50 per month will be better than a wireless card because it’s a connection that everyone in the car (and anyone in a nearby car) can share. The Autonet router will create an 802.11g network automatically and should be available in Avis rental cars this year as well. Just don’t type and drive.

Garmin c580 GPS
580-lg.jpg
Ok, with all the GPS’s out there why the c580? The first very compelling reason is to help you find the cheapest gas, wherever you are. The Garmin c580 has MSN direct (1st year free) with all its live concierge features making it one of the most advanced point-of- interest (POI) programs. With the MSN direct service, you can even find movie start times based on your location as well as real time traffic and weather. The c580 GPS has a really bright, viewable 3.5 inch screen (even in bright sunlight). Of course, the c580 has the entire GPS mapping and direction application and is intuitive, fast and very easy to use. It also has Bluetooth, so it can serve as a speaker phone and phone book. The c580 features an SD slot for MP3 files or use the slot for extra maps and optional software like travel guides. Then there is Garmin lock, an anti-theft feature that locks the system.

Roadmaster VR3 Wireless Back Up Camera
backupcamera.jpg

My Dad always said, “When backing up, watch out for the kids and their toys”. The Roadmaster Wireless VR3 backup camera is just the thing to prevent your kids and their toys from getting run over. The VR3 installs quickly and easily without much fuss. The 2.5 inch color LCD screen mounts on either your dash or visor with the camera lens fitting alongside the rear license plate. There are two options: either leave it on all the time or turn it off (they told me this) — it’s not smart enough to tell when you’re backing up. Over 2,400 kids are injured in back up accidents each year, so maybe it’s best to just leave it on.

TeleNav GPS
traffic-incident-alert.jpg
One of the annoying things about portable after-market GPS systems is that it isn’t safe to leave them in your car. Another aspect is that you bought the display so it is what it is. Yes, I know you can update the maps but at some point down the road it’s going to be outdated. So a really smart and portable option is to have the GPS on your cell phone. A really good service, TeleNav, has full 3D maps, voice commands, traffic alerts and one-click rerouting. It also has a WiFi hotspot finder and it will find you the lowest gas prices. One of the coolest aspects of TeleNav is that the company keeps adding functions and features but you’re not married to the hardware. You can take it with you to your new phone. It’s all good till you lose your cell signal.

Scrolling License Plate Frame
lic-plate.jpg
Disco Stu doesn’t advertise

Want something nutty to embarrass the kids? Roadmaster also has these really tacky Scrolling Digital license plate frames that let you personalize your own message in the back window or on your license plate. It comes with 99 pre-set words and phrases including my fave, “Help Me!” You can also program five interchangeable messages up to 120 characters each including “back off” or “car for sale” with your phone number. Messages can be repeated or combined and you can adjust the speed and brightness via the wireless remote. Certainly, this is not for everyone.

In-Car DVD/CD Player
xdvd8285.jpg

I remember back when I had my first DVD player installed in my car. I immediately drove down to the DVD rental store and rented a bunch of movies. Two days later, when I got back home my wife was pissed off, but me? I had fun. Anyway both the wife and that DVD player are long gone so when Dual showed me the XDVD8285 in Dash DVD player I knew I could once again disappear in my car. Up front, the 8285 has a 6.5 inch motorized touch-screen that gives you access to a variety of entertainment and communication options. Compatible with most Bluetooth phones the 8285 has a built-in microphone for hands-free calls. It’s got one-touch phone book dialing and caller ID so now when my new girl friend calls me during a movie I can totally blow her off. The 8285 has Multi-zone A/V and 5.1 outputs for a full-blown rear-seat cinema system. Other features include iPod integration and MP3 compatibility. In-car DVD players, you’ve come a long way Baby.

ViewBase Dash Board Gear
view-base-7.jpg
To deal with the clutter on your dashboard the ViewBase provides a solution for mounting your electronics without any adhesives or drilling. They use some kind of anti-skid technology; the ViewBase stays attached in any type of driving condition, off road, rapid braking, serious bumps, even accidents. I like the concept because it moves my GPS closer, but it is also good for mounting your cellphone to make use of its speakerphone feature.

Clearing the Air
a400_full_front.jpg
Does the interior of your car stink? The auto AirTamer by Filterstream will clean up that air for you. The AirTamer is not just for smokers, but for all of you stinkers. It makes the air healthier while you drive. It works like this: advanced electrostatic purification technology creates cleaner air by producing healthy negative ions that force airborne pollutants away form your breathing space. No filters and quiet too, the AirTamer has an attachment for your car’s air vent utilizing the fan’s power and increasing the ion dispersion and cleaning functions. Clean air is everyone’s job…hold it in.

FM Transmitter
vrfm9.gif
The Roadmaster FM modulator VRFM9 has a USB, SD card slot with Song Name read-outs of each song. An elegant solution, there are dual function buttons for Shuffle/Random, play, stop, volume, track selection, last song played, last FM channel and you can see all your pre-set FM channels. It can also play MP3’s and WMA from a USB memory stick or SD cards and plugs into your cigarette lighter.

iPod Gear
td_dx_hero_med.jpg
‘All thumbs’ is an expression I’ve been hearing all my life but now it has a positive meaning. DLO (the iPod silly accessory provider) makes the TransDock Deluxe. It broadcasts your iPod’s music through your car’s stereo system and your iPod videos can be shown on the in-car video screen (DVD player). The DLO steering-wheel remote is the safest way to go because you never take your hands off the wheel. With the remote you have all functions, pause, play, volume adjust and skip songs. Another benefit is that the cradle also is a charger so your iPod is always charged. It will only power up when you dock your iPod and turn off when you remove it, saving your car’s battery.

Solar Charger

media.gifBy accident or just bad luck, at some point your car’s battery is going to die. The Sunsei Solar Charger 135 by ICP Solar will keep your battery topped off with the power of the sun. The panel is designed to work inside the car, so just lay it on the dash and you will always be charged up and raring to go. Note this is more maintenance than a charger because you’re only getting “trickle down” power. It works with any 12 volt vehicle, even boats.

Don’t forget, before you go on any trip to tune-up your car and summer-proof it. Have fun and don’t be like me and lose your wife/girlfriend because of technology.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

8 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

10 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android