Communications

What can Bluetooth do besides make calls? (ABCs of Car Tech)

Most of us can agree now that Bluetooth connectivity is something that every tech car should have, but why is it important? Is it enough for a car to simply support Bluetooth or is there something more that you should be looking for?

In this week's ABCs of Car Tech, I'll do my best to answer those questions and explain the ins and outs of Bluetooth wireless technology.

What is Bluetooth? When most people hear the word "Bluetooth," they immediately think about speakerphones and wireless headsets for hands-free calling. That's partially correct in that these … Read more

Apple fans, don't expect a Siri button in your car anytime soon

Among the deluge of new features Apple talked up in the keynote for WWDC, integrating Siri with cars, in conjunction with automakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Honda, and GM, generated a lot of buzz. Siri has proved a popular voice command feature in the latest iOS, and so naturally users would want that functionality integrated into their cars.

But, knowing how the auto industry works, I was skeptical about a number of aspects of this announcement. I could not believe automakers would actually put dedicated buttons just for Siri in their cars. They would also not necessarily want to … Read more

What Siri's 'Eyes Free' feature means for cars

One of the newest Siri features isn't for the iPhone, but for vehicles that will integrate this natural language voice command service.

Apple announced today at its annual developer's conference, WWDC 2012, that several automakers have signed on to implement Siri's "Eyes Free" feature in their vehicles. BMW, General Motors, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Audi will enable drivers to integrate Siri with their vehicle's electronics system, and access the mobile assistant using a steering wheel button.

From the photo shown during the keynote address, it appears Siri--or Siri-like technology--could get its own button on … Read more

Lamborghini unveils $2,296 Android tablet, gold-plated phone

These are some seriously fast phones -- and we're not talking processor speeds. Check out the new line of luxury phones from Lamborghini, with supercar styling -- and supercar prices.

Russian site Mail.ru reports that Lamborgini has revved up two new feature phones, and an Android smartphone and tablet. And when we say supercar styling, we're not talking understated. Read on at Crave UK for the details of these ostentatious Androids.… Read more

Which of these Bluetooth speakerphones sounds the best? (comparison)

Most phones sold these days have a speakerphone mode. This setting is usually good enough for an impromptu hands-free call in a quiet office. However, when you get on the road in a noisy car, the phone's flaws are made apparent. For example, the built-in microphone can be less than ideal for canceling the levels of road and wind noise present in a car at highway speed, which leads to poor quality on the receiving end of your calls. I'm sure that you dislike repeating yourself to callers as much as I do, so let's look at how to improve call quality.

Visor-mounted Bluetooth speakerphones feature more sophisticated microphones with noise and echo-cancellation technology located closer to your head, which can dramatically improve sound quality. How much of an improvement should you expect? I've recorded outbound calls from five speakerphones (and my test phone's internal microphone) to demonstrate. … Read more

QNX's Jeep Wrangler sends its playlist to Facebook

A Jeep Wrangler owned by QNX Software Systems let the world know, via its Facebook page, that it was playing Iggy Pop's "Passenger" on its stereo. Beyond demonstrating its good taste in music, this Jeep was showing off the capabilities of QNX's Car 2 application platform for the attendees of the Telematics Update show in Detroit this week.

Unless you work with embedded systems, you probably have not heard of QNX, but if your car has iPod integration it is likely QNX software enables that feature. Although QNX can provide piecemeal solutions for automotive systems, the … Read more

Verizon leaps into connected car biz with Hughes buy

Verizon has agreed to buy Hughes Telematics for $612 million, bolstering its efforts to hook cars up with wireless service.

The New York telecommunications company said today that the all-cash deal would expand its ability to serve the fleet and automotive telematic industries. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, and Verizon said it plans to retain the existing management team and its headquarters in Atlanta.

The connected devices -- or machine-to-machine -- business is increasingly seen as the next growth area for the wireless industry. The opportunity to connect cars with entertainment, safety, security, and maintenance … Read more

Flashing headlights is your Constitutionally protected right

No good deed goes unpunished, as they say. A man who tried to warn others of a speed trap by flashing his vehicle's headlights at motorists was ticketed by police. But a Florida judge ruled this week that flashing headlights is free speech protected by the First Amendment, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel.

Ryan Kintner was ticketed last year for warning motorists of a speed trap waiting for them down the road. The Lake Mary, Fla., resident was at home when he noticed a police officer with a radar gun near his house, and decided to … Read more

Text message sender off the hook in car accident lawsuit

A New Jersey judge ruled today that a person sending a text message cannot be held liable for an ensuing car accident caused when the recipient replied to it, a CBS New York article reported.

Shannon Colonna was recently named in a lawsuit brought by two motorcyclists injured in a distracted-driving accident in 2009. David and Linda Kubert each lost part of their left legs when a truck driven by Kyle Best struck their motorcycle. Best pleaded guilty to using a handheld cell phone while driving, careless driving, and failure to maintain a lane, and was sentenced to $775 in … Read more

Ann Arbor to use V2V tech to prevent car crashes

Until supposedly safer autonomous vehicles become the norm, it's still up to the drivers to prevent car crashes. However, a few thousand drivers in Michigan will be getting a little electronic assist in staying out of harm's way.

The University of Michigan is conducting a pilot program to test a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications device that could help drivers avoid accidents, reported AnnArbor.com. This technology could prevent up to 81 percent of all vehicle crashes, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The school's Transportation and Research Institute is seeking 3,000 drivers in the Ann Arbor, … Read more