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Computex 2012 - We've just finished with the Ford press conference where they've unveiled their Evos concept car, which is fully Internet-connected and intertwined with the cloud. It's also powered by Microsoft's SYNC technology which can do more things than you can poke a stick at.
Ford is committed to be an electronic leader and working with Microsoft in the new Ford Focus. The new Focus features Sync powered by Microsoft, with better fuel economy, newer design safety features and interiors. Sync connects the car with the driver's personal devices and controls those devices via voice. So far Sync is powered in 4 million units all around the world now it will be available in Taiwan with traditional Chinese and Mandarin language support. Ford hope to see this number increase to 9 million by 2015.
Ford is also introducing App Link that controls apps in drivers personal devices and lets the driver control the device via voice.
Ford Evos concept car features cloud computing give a boost to driver's experience and performance with devices powered by iOS, Android and Blackberry- anything between tuning in radio to syncing with your clock, meeting schedule, getting a new shortcut tagged by your friends, tagging your car's present location and also mapping direction to your Facebook profile's events.
The future is here, nearly. After Google's try at an autonomous car driving the streets of Las Vegas, Volvo have done something even more impressive. Volvo were impressive in the way that they platooned three cars behind a lorry for 200 kilometers on a busy Spanish motorway.
Don't know what platoon means outside of a first-person shooter like Battlefield 3? The term "platooning" means, in effect, queueing cars behind e ach other with a lead car as a pace setter. The technique is also known as road-training.
It involved several research partners alongside Volvo, with the latest version of the project codenamed SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment). The first public road test for the SARTRE took to the roads outside of Barcelona, Spain at the end of last week. The cars travelled at 85 kilometers per hour (roughly 52 miles per hour) at varying distances from each other.
Voice control is gaining momentum everywhere thanks to Apple's Siri: Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S III is going to feature a Siri alternative. Google has voice search. Now, Nuance, the people behind the Dragon software, is showcasing a new technology to allow for natural language processing. Nuance technology is already seen in Ford's Sync and My Ford Touch.
The current Nuance system recognizes about 10,000 voice commands, but can't cope with anything outside of that pre-programmed library. The new technology being showcased is called Dragon Drive and will use Nuance's cloud-based servers to allow natural language processing, similar to how Apple's Siri works.
The technology is moving forward slowly and starting with an SMS service. The SMS service will allow users to send and receive text messages. As more people get used to the technology and the technology advances, Nuance will bring the technology to services like navigation, traffic updates and music playback.
Dragon Drive is said to do some of the processing locally and some in the cloud as opposed to Apple's Siri. This, combined with Nuance's multiple telco grad facilities worldwide, is said to alleviate any latency that was present with Siri. Mike Thompson, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance Mobile says that models should hit the showroom floors sometime this summer.
Electric cars and the charging stations needed to charge them aren't cheap and aren't widely available. It's kind of the same situation as the chicken vs the egg. Which came first? The electric car industry is in a similar place--to sell electric vehicles, there need to be charging stations, to put in charging stations, a business has to make money and have customers.
This is where GE's new WattStation Connect software comes into play. The new software will allow users who own a WattStation charger to charge other people money to charge up their car. Charges can be assessed by the hour, per kilowatt hour, or even a flat fee. Additionally, companies can allow their employees to charge for free while charging other people.
The software also allows owners to broadcast the location of the EV charging station to entice more "customers." GE is pairing the service with PayPal which will be used to process the payments for charging. Unfortunately, since the charger is a level 2 charger, most vehicles will need to be parked for several hours, so I'm not too sure how keen people will be to have strangers parked in their drive for that long.
If you see a car with a red license plate and infinity symbol, steer clear as that car is one of Google's self-driving cars driving itself around. Drivers of Nevada will soon be driving through Las Vegas with the likes of cars that no longer need them. Just do Google a favor, don't honk at any cars with said red license plate.
"It gets honked at more often because it's being safe," said Nevada DMV Director Bruce Breslow. But, after proving itself in test drives through Carson City and Las Vegas, the vehicle has received a license to drive itself around, with a few learners restrictions. The vehicle will be required to have two people in it at all times.
One person is required to sit in the drivers seat to take control in case a glitch occurs. The other person is required to monitor a computer screen which displays its planned route and keeps tabs on traffic lights and road hazards. The driver can stop autonomous mode with a push of the brake pedal or a movement of the steering wheel.
"They're designed to avoid distracted driving," Breslow said. "When you're on the Strip and there's a huge truck with a three scantily clad women on the side, the car only sees a box." Breslow believes that these cars will be available in 3 to 5 years and at that point they will feature a green license plate.
Rumors about an upcoming Apple iPad Mini refuse to die. This week, rumors are point to Apple releasing another new iPad even though the iPad 3 came out less than a month ago. This new iPad is dubbed the iPad Mini and, pretty obviously, would be smaller than the current generation of iPads.
The current 3rd generation iPad features a 9.7-inch screen and a resolution of 2048 x 1536. The rumors place the new iPad mini with a 7.85-inch screen and a 1024 x 768 display. This is likely so that Apple can sell a version of the iPad at a cheaper price and better compete against the upcoming Windows 8 tablets.
A site is claiming that reports out of China that manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron both started receiving orders from Apple for the smaller iPad. If you believe this site, the factories will have 6 million iPad Mini units ready to go by Q3 of this year meaning that you could have one in your hands by early- to mid-summer.
The late Steve Jobs wasn't a fan of a smaller screened device: "If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on the 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display," he said. "This size isn't sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion." This begs the question to why the iPhone and iPod Touch are seemingly easy to use.
Clarion has something pretty cool in the works. If you're an Android fanatic and can't get enough of it with just your smartphone and tablet, you can now get it on your car radio. Clarion has the dubbed the Mirage a "smart car stereo" and it comes with a 6.5-inch touch screen. Ironically, it also comes with Facebook and Angry Birds already installed.
Just what we need--to be encouraging Facebook and AB while driving. Ultimately, the Mirage is an AVN-style double-DIN player with an SD slot, USB port, and Bluetooth. Curiously, they seem to have forgotten a CD drive. Even though this stereo runs Android, it should be able to accept plugging your iPhone or iPod into it via USB to play music.
It also has built-in GPS, radio, and the awesome ability to display photos as a slideshow. Once again, why they have a distracting feature like that is beyond me. As for right now, this product is being marketed directly to manufacturers, so you can't pick it up for personal use quite yet. Hopefully, we will soon see something like this as a default in-dash system.
Everyone, I'm sure, remembers that little fender bender that Google's self-driving car was involved in in August 2011. The vehicle has now been tested for over 200,000 miles and company employees finally felt it safe to unleash it onto the public roads. The car took Steve Mahan who is the CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center out to Taco Bell. I guess the car's a cheap date!
There were some legality issues that had to met for this to happen. First, Google had to get permission from the local police department since Mahan doesn't have a drivers license. Second, self-driving cars haven't exactly been approved for use in California. To solve this, the Morgan Hill police placed Sergeant Troy Hoefling in the car with Mahan for the duration of the trip.
CES 2012: Working for tech sites can be pretty rewarding sometimes, you get the latest hardware, and if you're lucky enough, you get to keep it. I wonder if that will be the same when NVIDIA start throwing their technology into Lamborghini's? Dream world, I live in one.
NVIDIA used CES to demonstrate their in-vehicle power in the recently launched Audi A7, the Tesla Model S and the amazing Lamborghini Aventador supercar. There's a video below which goes over this.
The whole thing was to show off how NVIDIA technology isn't just helping to change the mobile landscape, or gaming landscape, but they're also driving extraordinary innovation in auto technologies. Audi, Tesla and Lamborghini are now set for a large change thanks to NVIDIA.
Ford tease Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, can drive electrically for 20 miles before starting its engine
CES 2012: It's not all consumer electronics to be used indoors at CES, there's also ourdoor-y type in the form of a car from Ford. Ford have just announced their 2013 Fusion, which is an all-new car packed to the rim with gadgets and tech like adaptive cruise control and comes in gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
Effiency for the mid-sized sedan ranges from 26MPG city and 37MPG highway in the gasoline variant to 44MPG city and 44MPG highway for the lithium-ion-packed hybrids. The Fusion Energi plu-in sports an estimated 100MPGe, which is 7MPGe better than the Volt and 13MPGe better than the Prius plug-in. Not only that, the Fusion is actually bigger than the two models mentioned.
It can also drive for 20 miles on electricity before starting its engine, and will accelerate all the way up to 62MPH on battery power alone. This is a great feature for those who just want to duck out to the shops, or go out to dinner or see a movie.
Infotainment is something worth mentioning, too. It sports the latest, more-simple version of MyFord Touch which is paired with SYNC. Like the Focus Electric or C-MAX Energy, charging, heating and cooling can all be controlled remotely with MyFord Mobile.
Pricing hasn't been mentioned, but Ford has said it will show up in stateside showrooms later this year.