All posts tagged “Geek&#8217s”

9 Smart Car Technologies We Want To See (A Geek’s Wishlist)

For a long time, the sole purpose of a car was to take us from point A to point B as fast as traffic conditions would allow us to. However, rapid advancements in technology has led to a surge in demand from many of us – we wanna have more comfort, entertainment, functionalities, and so on in our cars than ever before. In that vein, we have come up with a wishlist of the things we would like to see (from a geek’s perspective) in cars of the future.


(Image Source: French Concept Cars)

Just like how phones have evolved into smartphones, perhaps cars should also take a similar route and evolve into ‘smart’ cars equipped with futuristic and (more importantly) practical features. In fact, some car manufacturers have already implemented a few of these things that we’re about to mention, but it’ll be nice to see them become standard features in all cars of the future.

1. Enhanced Gesture Control

Building on the familiar existing technology of knob and voice controls, Audi, in 2011, introduced a new feature that would provide unprecendented ease in controlling a car’s functions. The new feature is called MMI touch, and is actually an enhancement for their already exisiting Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) system.

The best thing about MMI touch is that it enables drivers to input characters just by using a finger to "write" on the designated touchpad. This has a wide range of applications such as keying in addresses for navigation purposes, entering phone numbers or simply selecting songs to play. MMI touch also has support for a range of languages besides English.

Audi Touch
(Image Source: Mercedes Benz)

Of course, the usual knob and voice controls are still available as well – MMI touch just makes it a whole lot easier for you to access your car’s functions while you’re driving. And more recently, Mercedes-Benz has also introduced their own take on this enhanced gesture control concept.

2. Augmented Reality Head-Up Display

Having augmented reality display on a car windscreen would add a lot of functionality to the car. We would be able to see information like speed, navigation details and even the name of an incoming call with minimalistic designs on our windscreens.

Head-Up Display
(Image Source: bimmerfile)

By using an app called HUDWAY, you can place your iPhone on the dashboard of your car and navigation information (from your iPhone) will be reflected and displayed on your windscreen. It looks very cool but obviously doesn’t work under certain conditions, e.g. when the surrounding is too bright for the information to be clearly visibile on your windscreen.

Head-up displays are definitely something of the future that we should look forward to. It’ll help us keep our eyes on the road by giving us all the relevant information without having to look at a center console display or our smartphones.

3. Apps & Firmware Updates

Imagine driving a car capable of running apps that are no less powerful than what you have on your smartphone right now. For starters, there can be specialized apps for certain countries or cities that could provide local information on restaurants, malls or other places of interest for travelers.

Toyota Fun Vii
(Image Source: Toyota)

Toyota has already introduced a concept car called Fun Vii Concept Car that can do all of the above and more. "Vii" is an acronym for Vehicle, Interactive, Internet – this concept car basically allows the driver to be constantly connected with everyone including your friends and even other automobiles. What’s more, its exterior design can even be customized as shown in this short promotional clip.

While it will probably take some time before cars like Fun Vii get to production, cars with the ability to have firmware updates have already been made available on the market. These firmware updates could improve certain features of the car including the radio, tire pressure, Wi-Fi connectivity, and charging capacity. Tesla Model S, a 100% electric car, is one car that has such firmware updates.

4. Sheet Thin Batteries

As batteries used in existing electric cars are bulky and heavy, manufacturers have to find a suitable place to put the large amount of batteries, and at the same time, ensure that the car is well balanced throughout. What will be really cool is to have batteries hidden in plain sight by replacing the cosmetic parts of a car.

Body Panel Battery
(Image Source: AutoblogGreen)

These parts could be the panels throughout the car on both the interior and exterior. Manufacturers won’t have to compromise on the appearance of the car as the batteries would be thin and bendable. Although technology has yet to catch up with this vision, it’s definitely something worth looking forward to.

5. Communication Between Vehicles

Communication between vehicles doesn’t mean you can call up the car in front of you and ask it to move out of your way. It’s more like machines communicating with each other so that there’ll be smoother traffic and less congested roads.

Car Communication
(Image Source: TopSpeed)

This technology will also increase road safety by reducing collisions between cars. For example, your car can warn you about a car that’s coming from your blind spot. If implemented correctly, this technology will significantly increase road safety, efficiency, and driving experience.

6. Smart Fuel Saving Tips

Another cool feature to have in a ‘smart’ car is to have it give you fuel efficiency tips or notifications while you’re driving. For example, it can notify you about a nearby gas station that has cheap gas prices; so even if you still have half a tank of fuel left, it’ll suggest that you refill now to avoid paying more at another gas station when you eventually run out of fuel.


(Image Source: digitaltrends)

7. Perfect Integration With Smartphones

Something that is obviously lacking in contemporary cars is integration with smartphones. We’re not talking about being able to play music off your smartphone but more of being able to control your smartphone’s functionality through voice commands or even buttons on the steering wheel.

Honda is taking a pioneering step by integrating Apple’s Siri Eyes Free into their upcoming car models. That would basically allow you to use iOS from the dashboard of your car, letting you easily and safely make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, and get directions using built-in Apple apps.

iOS Car integration

Meanwhile, there isn’t that much going on as far as integrating Android into cars is concerned. Although Android users can get lots of functionality (Google Now, Maps) just by mounting their Android smartphones onto their car windscreens, it’ll definitely be nice to have an integrated system with the car dashboard that allows the use of buttons on the steering wheel.

8. Long Term Evolution (LTE)

As some of you may know, built-in GPS devices (in cars) work without needing Internet access. But wouldn’t it be great if we can get live traffic updates on top of the usual GPS navigation? To do that, however, an Internet connection would be required – something that many cars still don’t have support for.


(Image Source: Alcatel Lucent)

Here’s the good news: some car manufacturers like Audi have already made plans to implement Long Term Evolution (LTE) in their future car models. LTE would allow for better quality internet radio, searching for a location using pictures and faster loading of live maps. Having a dedicated LTE connection in a car can also turn the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot for people on laptops who are constantly on the go.

9. Self-Healing Paint

Self-healing paint has been around for some time now, but somehow hasn’t been implemented in consumer cars yet. Whatever the case may be, this is one cool technology – surface scratches will magically disappear after just a few minutes and your car will look like how it once was.

Self-Healing Paint
(Image Source: Nissan)

Truth be told, deep scratches won’t be 100% gone and some may still be visible if you look hard enough, but from a distance the car will still look as good as new.

Final Thoughts

Technological advancements have certainly surpassed our expectations of what can be integrated into cars. However, some of these advanced features we have looked at may come with hefty price tags. Nonetheless, we can still hope for a time where technology becomes more efficient and cheaper, allowing for all these cool and futuristic features to be implemented in cars of every price range.


    




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A Geek’s Wishlist – 10 Things We Want To Do With Google Glass

So we’ve talked about what Google Glass has to offer, its features and capabilities and how it is the most anticipated wearable gadget in 2013. But why leave it there? Add a dash of wishful thinking (okay, maybe a whole lot of it) and here’s a wishlist of things we want to see happen with Google Glass.

Google Glass is a sight for sore eyes as it is touted as the lightweight, hands-free solution to the smartphone. It still tethers to the Internet access of the smartphone via Bluetooth but has a built-in GPS chip for navigational use. Voice commands make the integration almost seamless and Glass also comes with a camera for recording pictures and videos in first-person view.

With this recap, you now probably have a sense of the potential Glass has in all sorts of situations. Here are just 10 examples of how Glass can further enrich our lives. Note that this is just a wishlist and while Glass may not be able to do these things, who know what will happen in the near future?

1. Benefit Education

If Youtube tutorials have taught us anything, it’s that videos can go far in education that is not confined in the classroom. Glass can help push that barrier even further by recording tutorials in for instances the type spaces mechanics find themselves in when fixing a car engine or machinery parts, or in restricted areas where only the surgeon and its staff is allowed.

Surgery

In both examples, Glass keeps the mechanic’s and surgeon’s hands free to work their magic, and still gives students a first-person view of the masters at work. It would be great for the feed to be streamed live and to allow the viewers to get to experience what is happening in real-time.

2. Live Information When You Need It

In #1, the surgeon would appreciate having access to the vital stats of his patient straight in Glass if he needs it. For the rest of us, Glass could even provide information about programs we are watching on TV such as stats about the actor, the shows they’ve acted in, synopsis or facts about fashion.

Glass could also work in the world of sports where it gives you the latest team and player news, table standings and past results the moment you switch TV channels or when you’re at a live sports event.

3. Recommendation Guides

With augmented reality in place, it’ll be cool to have Glass give you information of restaurants as you walk past, such as the chef’s recommendation of the day, prices and reviews. Information of promotions going on at each shop outlet would appease the shopaholic in you and can even be sorted to cater to the specific needs of each Glass user

This will even be a good thing to have for tourists who visit foreign lands where they don’t speak the language.

4. Health Monitor interface

With Glass’ built-in GPS chip, it can easily track your movement. Together with an external health tracking monitor or through health related apps, Glass could probably display, track or log in your pace, speed, heart rate and running duration for use such as when you’re running a marathon.

Runner

Its capability to have sunglasses attachment also means it’ll be perfect for use on brigh sunny running days, and the avid calorie counter may be able to keep his or her nutritional intake in check almost constantly.

5. Get More Out Of Life

A person who has to keep an eye on the family while working from home could benefit from Glass. Instead of having to worry about missing an important call or email on their work phone, wearing Glass allows them to receive notifications while doing things around the house since both their hands are free.

They also need not tether themselves to any computer, laptop or tablet to receive updates.

6. Assisting Busy Lives

That said, having Glass equipped with a personal assistant app like Siri on iOS or alternatives found on Android lets you manage your work life even better via voice commands, say, to schedule reminders, alarms and events.

You can set reminders as and when you have made decisions during a meeting, gotten a reply from a client or finalized a plan that is good to go.

7. Documentaries In First Person View

We’ve seen the video introducing Glass where skydivers recorded their descent. However, Glass can be used to push documentaries even further.

For instance, viewers can actually step into the shoes of police officers during an actual drug raid, first responders during a disaster or emergency event or even of paramedics who have to think on their feet to save lives. This beats reality TV shows anytime.

8. Video Conferencing Alternative

Google Hangout is a fine tool for conferencing but you still need to sit yourself in front of a laptop to use it. For companies that need to have a lot of meetings regularly it’s common to spend a budget on a state of the art conference room.

Perhaps Glass can be a great alternative for decision makers who are always on the move and who everyone wants an audience with. Group meetings can be done regardless of where everyone is.

9. Easier Video Logging

For the avid DIY builder, keeping track of screws and parts may be a common annoyance during the assembly process, but this is recitifiable with some strategic video logging. Since Glass has a camera equipped, the builder gets a first-person recording of what he does and keeping track of steps and parts are just a matter of playbacks.

Alternatively, scientists can log the results of their experiments easier, faster and more accurately. Video recordings and voice logs neatly time-stamped can ensure that they can focus more on the science instead of the documentation. To top it all off (since we’re dreaming anyways) it’ll be cool to then create an app for data-logging using speech-to-text with itemized logging.

10. Work Together With Any Smartphone & Its Apps

This is probably the most important thing anyone who is eager to try out the Glass would want. We’re talking about support for popular mobile OS like iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry as well as upcoming OS like Ubuntu, Firefox, Tizen and Sailfish.

Mobile OS
(Image Source: Gizmolord)

With widespread support and a higher user base, and seamless integration with apps, there is probably hope for the prices to drop to affordable ranges so everyone can grab a pair.

    


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