Communications

The five most connected cars

You only need to look at a smartphone to realize the usefulness of an Internet connection in a car. And the advent of smartphones is playing a big part in getting automakers to integrate connected features. People used to looking up an address on a smartphone can now do it right in their car's dashboard, and save that address to the navigation system. Other apps that can come in handy on the road, as deemed by these automakers, bring up Internet radio, social networking, and dinner reservations.… Read more

Pilot of the future: U.S. Army gets wearable tech for the battlefield

U.S. Army, welcome to the future.

If you happen to be in Farnborough, London, this week, you'll be able to see a demo of an Army pilot geared in the latest in wearable military technology -- a portable computing device that fits in a pocket and a display panel that can be strapped to a soldier's wrist.

The entire Aviation Warrior (yes, that's what it is called) system -- which includes a helmet equipped with a flip-down viewing monocle and taps into the cockpit's digital display -- may seem like something that belongs in Battlestar … Read more

To stop distracted driving, Cape Town police take motorists' phones

When fines and warnings don't work, police may want to consider another tactic to stop distracted driving: confiscate mobile devices.

Thanks to a new law in Cape Town, South Africa, police have started confiscating mobile phones of motorists caught talking or texting while driving, reports the Cape Times. It's legal for motorists to use hands-free devices to operate mobile phones, but using handheld phones behind the wheel can result in a 500 Rand ($60) fine, or up to three years in jail, or both. However, officials say they give out 8,000 fines each month, and haven't … Read more

Monitor your car's performance with the Torque app for Android

Your car's dashboard is probably home to a speedometer, a tachometer, a fuel gauge, and -- if you're lucky -- a coolant temperature gauge. However, your car's electronic brain (ECU) is actively monitoring dozens of parameters behind the scenes that you, the driver, could find useful. This is where diagnostics hardware and apps like Torque Pro and Lite for Android step in, putting all of that data at your fingertips.

Torque doesn't require anything more than the hardware already present on your Android phone to function. Without any external hardware, Torque can still pull sensor data … Read more

Mercedes-Benz opens an app store in Europe

As manufacturers figure out how to integrate mobile phone applications with vehicle infotainment systems, Mercedes-Benz decided to cut the middle man out of the picture by opening its own app shop, and let customers download applications directly to their car.

The Mercedes-Benz App Store opened last week, a company spokesperson confirmed in an e-mail. The new online app store will let customers browse for new applications to add to their vehicle's Comand infotainment system. Google Search, Weather, Facebook are standard apps on this system, and Yahoo should be added later this year. Using their phone's Internet connection, they … Read more

Ford France announces Keyfree Login password manager

One of my favorite convenience features for cars is smart keyless entry and start. This transponder-based system lets you unlock your doors by simply approaching the car, touching the door, and pushing the starter button -- no fumbling with the key fob required thanks to RFID technology.

Ford thinks that if this sort of walk up and unlock technology is good for your car, it should also be good for your laptop, which is why it's announced its Ford Keyfree Login software. After downloading and installing the Chrome extension onto a laptop or desktop computer that features Bluetooth connectivity, … Read more

Kinect in the car? It's coming

Microsoft placed a want ad for a software engineer with its Connected Car QA team to aid in the development and testing of the next-generation connected car platform. Based on the job description on Microsoft's Web site, it looks like the technology giant has embedded every product it offers in the dash:

For the next generation of the Connected Car Platform, we plan to leverage the full power of the Microsoft ecosystem including Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Live, Bing, Azure, and Tellme. The combination of rich local sensing, user identification, cloud access, and data mining will transform … Read more

Want Siri Eyes Free integration now? Get MediaBridge

Even if you don't plan on buying a new car any time soon to take advantage of Apple's upcoming Eyes Free feature, you may still be able to get Siri in your car. Aftermarket electronics supplier Dice Electronics says that its MediaBridge component already has the capability to integrate Siri with some vehicles' electronics systems.

MediaBridge is a plug-and-play Bluetooth-enabled hardware "black box" that integrates Apple products with the vehicle's existing head unit. The device adds Bluetooth and streaming to the audio system, and in some cars, lets you access Siri with steering wheel controls. … Read more

Apple's Eyes Free coming to Chevy Spark, Sonic

Apple announced last week at the 2012 WWDC that many automakers have signed on to integrate Apple's Siri in their vehicles, but few have said which cars or when. However, two compacts from General Motors may be among the first to include the new "Eyes Free" feature in its vehicles, reports blog GM Authority.

The Chevrolet Spark and Chevrolet Sonic will be the first GM vehicles to get this latest infotainment feature. The two vehicles are already available with MyLink, an infotainment system that integrates with the driver's smartphone. MyLink leverages the handset's Internet connection … Read more

Spansion, Nuance announce Acoustic Coprocessor for automotive voice recognition

SAN FRANCISCO--In-car voice recognition technology has come a long way, but there's much room for improvement. One problem voice-recognition technology faces is that is that there's only so much memory and processing power available in the dashboard at any given time, which has to be shared with navigation, media playback, traffic data, and other infotainment functions. Spansion, a company best known for providing flash memory products to OEMs, thinks it has the solution in its newly unveiled Spansion Acoustic Coprocessor, claimed to be the first of its kind.

The Spansion Acoustic Coprocessor is basically a system on a … Read more