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Tech Tuesday: The latest tech toys for your vehicle

Need to know about the latest tech toys you can get for your vehicle? Tech Tuesdays lets you know what’s hot and what’s not.

Technology moves on faster than your ex-girlfriend, so keeping up with it can be hard.

Fret no more. Every Tuesday-ish, I’ll be writing up on some of the car technologies and tech toys that are out in the market. “But Bobby” you ask, “what makes you an expert on car technology?”

The answer is “nothing” although I’ve seen all of the films in The Fast & Furious franchise, so that has to count for something. I’m basically a guy interested in cars. I’m your typical consumer. That’s what makes me a good fit to write up on it.

So sit back and enjoy. Although statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be standing up right, waiting in line while reading this on your phone.

Apple CarPlay 

Using your iPhone without getting into a car accident or to a lesser degree, getting fined, seems popular these days. The good (or evil, depending on how you look at it) people at Apple have created a way to use your phone while driving so that you can Periscope your latest car accident.

CarPlay works on select cars by using the vehicle’s built-in display/console. If you don’t have one (or are poor like me), you’re out of luck. Get directions, make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music all while you keep your eyes on the road (mostly). Use Siri, the disembodied voice that your wife thinks is your mistress, to choose commands, use the vehicle’s built-in display (touchscreen) or utilize good old-fashioned knobs – it really depends on you vehicle. Most iPhones are compatible with CarPlay.


Android Auto

Apple’s not the only company encouraging you to get into car accidents. Android Auto does most of the same functions as its rival. You have to have the Lollipop (5.0) operating system or higher to enjoy Android Auto.

Android Auto

Garmin Heads-Up Display

Some Ironman level technology right here. The HUD display projects GPS directions onto your windshield so that you’re less distracted than normal and you naturally observe the road as the device is in your line of sight. It provides the traditional GPS tools as well, such as speed, traffic and safety camera alerts.

All you need to do is attach the refractor lens (which is included) onto your windshield or use the rigid plastic lens (a better option if you’ll use the device in other cars). You’ll need to pair the device with your smartphone via Bluetooth and download the Garmin StreetPilot app for iOS or Navigon navigation app ($50) for Android, iOS or Windows phones. The device retails for $149.99. A little pricey, but it’ll impress your friends and hopefully a date.

Garmin Heads up

Mobileye 560

Aren’t you tired of running over small children and smaller animals? Of course you are.

The Mobileye gives you real-time warnings to prevent (or try to prevent) collisions. By placing a smart camera in front of your windshield or rearview camera, this device detects lane markings (and provides lane departure warnings), identifies whether you’re too close to the cars in front of you and detects pedestrians as well.

Venture too close, or if the device detects a pedestrian or cyclist ahead, you’ll hear an audible beep and a visual cue from the hardware. The device also lets you know if you need to take action, based on your speed and distance from whatever is ahead of you. You can use your phone and an app instead of the Mobileye hardware.

It’s a pricey device but cheaper than buying a new car or hiring a lawyer for the vehicular homicide charge.

Viper SmartStart Systems

Viper offers several products that can be bunched together or purchased separately. Using internet connectivity, you can control and monitor your car through the Viper app. You also have the ability to remotely lock or unlock your doors and trunk like a less suave, less technologically equipped James Bond. You can locate and track your car, disarm the alarm or remotely start the car, a great benefit during Canadian winters. Prices for products vary.

Viper SmartStart Systems

Automatic Labs Automatic

By plugging in an adapter into the standard diagnostics port hidden in the dash of most cars, you can connect your car’s performance data with the Automatic App Gallery options.

These options include diagnostic tools, remembering where you parked (no one ever remembers), how to drive more efficiently and it’ll also detect if you’ve been in a serious accident, in which case an agent will call you, your loved ones and emergency services.The device retails for $99.95.

Automatic Labs

Unless you’re hated by all, in which case only paramedics MIGHT show. You can also use the Apple Watch or Pebble classic for some functions.
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