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Microsoft is really on a path to change, with the latest rumor that it is working on its own in-car entertainment system, something called Windows in the Car. It all starts with a connectivity standard dubbed Mirrorlink.
Nokia's Symbian-powered handsets and Sony's Xperia Z line of devices use the technology, but some of the big car companies like Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen are working on using the tech, as well as aftermarket stereo providers like Alpine and Pioneer. The companies want to use Mirrorlink, are are working on baking it into their respective devices.
When it comes to the interface of the current prototype from Microsoft, it looks like a cut down version of Windows 8, even accompanied by its own app marketplace. Touch capabilities are of course a big part of Windows in the Car, where users can swipe between tiles to control things such as the radio, maps and much more.
Viper is a company that has been making car alarms for years. It has announced a new device called the Viper SmartKey that makes keyless entry truly keyless. The SmartKey system creates a wireless perimeter around the car that responds to your smartphone without having to press any buttons or open an app.
You do need a Viper security or remote start system for the SmartKey to work. The company says SmartKey is compatible with all Viper alarm systems. The SmartKey system itself sells for $149.99. Once installed, the system will lock or unlock the doors without you having to do anything.
All you need to do is have the smartphone on you. SmartKey will unlock the car and turn on the alarm when you approach the car without you doing anything. When you walk away from the car, it will automatically lock and arm the alarm system.
An owner of a Tesla Model S was recently fiddling about with his car after discovering a hidden Ethernet port inside the vehicle. He cobbled together some sort of Ethernet cable and set about sniffing the car's network for fun.
The owner found that the car has a 100 Mbps full duplex Ethernet network with three devices on it. The addresses on the network are in the 192.168.90.0 subnet and includes the center console, dashboard/nav screen and another unknown device.
He found that some of the ports and services were open and that Port 80 was being used to serve a webpage with the image or media for the current song being played. He also notes that the OS is a modified version of Ubuntu.
Rear visibility cameras will be required in all vehicles by May 2018, according to the US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a ruling that was delayed on numerous occasions.
The agency reported that 73 percent of the vehicles that will be released by 2018 will already have the cameras anyway - but wants to ensure manufacturers will continue to provide the security either way.
"Rear visibility requirements will save lives, and will save many families from the heartache suffered after these tragic incidents occur," said David Friedman, NHTSA Acting Administrator, in a press statement. "We're already recommending this kind of life-saving technology through our NCAP program and encouraging consumers to consider it when buying cars today."
GTC 2014 - As an Australian-based editor of TweakTown, one thing I've always wanted to do is go for a drive in Tesla Motors' Model S electric car. Well, while I was at the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, I took the opportunity to jump in and take a look.
Jonathan Katz, Product Specialist of Tesla Motors, drove the car - and just as we were taking off, I asked if he could wear my Google Glass unit, where he was more than happy to help out. The video above gives you a first-person perspective of the drive itself, something that I don't think has been done before, at least with Google Glass.
It gives you the perfect look at the car, with Katz explaining the various features and functions of the car, of which there is actually many. There were five of us in total in the car, but the backseat did not seem cramped. The 'frunk' as Katz explains (the front trunk, as there is no traditional engine and components under the bonnet is spacious, with the trunk featuring even more space.
One feature that is growing in popularity on many vehicles available today is in-car web connectivity. Several automakers are giving cars the ability to be connected to 4G networks and share that connectivity with people in the car. the idea is to give passengers access to the web and entertainment options while they travel.
Audi is offering a 4G LTE connectivity option in its new 2015 A3 sedan. It is teaming up with AT&T for service for the car and details on the mobile connection plans have been announced. The service will be available with AT&T in North America.
AT&T will offer two plans according to reports. One of the plans is a six-month offering with 5GB of data. The other plan is a 30-month plan that offers 30GB of data. Audi owners that already have an AT&T shared data plan can also add their car as another device. No word on pricing for the AT&T plans for the car at this time.
Audi unveiled a system during CES 2014 that is able to connect with compatible traffic lights and give the driver a countdown on the dash showing when the light will turn green. Audi has offered some more information about the system, and the carmaker says that the system will save fuel as well.
The way the traffic light recognition tool will help save fuel is by connecting with the start stop technology inside the car. The start stop system will leave the engine off until five seconds before the light turns green. Audi figures that the system could save about 240 million gallons of fuel if it was in wide use.
The system could also cut emissions by 15%. If you are wondering why the engine starts five seconds before the light turns green when most start-stop systems can start an engine in less than a second, the 5 seconds is meant as a reminder to the driver to get ready to drive.
Recently Apple announced its new in-car platform designed to give better interaction and control with a smartphone from behind the wheel. The system is called CarPlay and it has 18 car companies committed to the platform already. Mercedes is one of those committed to the platform.
One downside for users that are interested in this system is that it will only be in brand new 2014 and up vehicles. Mercedes doesn't want to leave owners of older models of its vehicles out. MB has announced that it will have an aftermarket solution for adding CarPlay available by the end of the year.
The aftermarket system will be able to display CarPlay visuals on the in-dash screens of select vehicles. Mercedes hopes to have it available by the end of the year. It's unclear at this point, which vehicles the Mercedes CarPlay system will work for. I would wager it would only be for select Mercedes cars rather than something you can buy and put inside any make of vehicle.
If you are a fan of outrageous exotic sports cars, you will be familiar with the Lamborghini name. Lamborghini has been making some of the coolest high performance cars since the 60's and its latest offering is a replacement for the Gallardo called the Huracan. The car is all-new and has a very slick digital dashboard.
The digital dash inside the car replaces old-fashioned analog gauges and is powered by NVIDIA. The digital dash uses a 12.3-inch TFT display offering a resolution of 1440 x 540. The graphics for that dash are powered by a Tegra 30 chip from the Tegra 3 series.
The digital muscle behind the dash lets the virtual tachometer work at 60 fps so it can keep up with the engine without causing difficult to read lag. The digital dash can be configured to show what the driver wants to see with three modes. The Full Drive mode offers an analog style tachometer with smaller displays for fuel level, temperature and a digital speedo. Mixed mode frees up half that display for a navigation screen.
Today, Apple officially made an announcement about its brand new iOS specifically made for cars- CarPlay. The company first talked about its car iOS version during the developer conference last year and the cars with this Car specific iOS integration will be shown in an auto show at Geneva. For such project, it was important for Apple, Inc to sign up manufacturers so that the companies can incorporate the suitable hardware/interface setup for the in-car touch panel on the dashboard.
Via a statement, Apple VP Greg Joswiak said,"CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car. IPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we're thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva."