Some auto features are far from standard and are not available as options, so drivers who want ever more futuristic (or simply cool) touches are taking matters into their own hands using specialized gadgets.
The following ten products, chosen by Al Carlton of Coolest Gadgets.com run the gamut from purely frivolous to innovative and time-saving to downright creepy. Click on ahead to inspect these gadgets.
By: Colleen Kane
Posted 17 May 2011
This anti-glare rear-view mirror is really a 7" monitor capable of showing live video from a license-plate-mounted night-vision camera. Carlton explains why the monitor, made by Pyle Audio, is so handy: "When reversing into tight spots, your rear view mirror 'automagically'
converts into a screen with a night vision view of what's behind you. How cool is that?" It can also be used as a monitor for a DVD player or a video game.
If you've ever wanted to communicate with a fellow driver but prefer to avoid all human interaction, today's your lucky day. Drivemocion makes a whole line of LED-light "expressive car message signs." Depending on the model, available word messages include THANKS and BACK OFF, and emoticons include happy, sad, angry, and goofy faces, as well as a flirty face with heart-shaped eyes. There's even a digital version of a favorite gesture normally made with a single hand digit.
Feeling muscle car but driving a minivan? The Vroominator provides the revving sound of a V8 engine through any car's sound system speakers, using a "blank" FM station (a la some MP3 player devices). It uses the car's DC current, so it won't work with hybrids and electrics. A video demonstration of the vrooming in action is found on the Vroominator's Hammacher Schlemmer product page.
Price: approx. $300
Coming in 2012, humanity will become even less capable of conducting daily life without their smart phones, with the arrival of the Mavia. What will this thing do? It's almost like turning your car into KITT from Knight Rider. It will lead you by GPS to your parked car in a large lot or an unfamiliar city. In the event of an accident (if your car's airbags deploy), it sends a text message alert to family. You can start and unlock your car remotely. It will tell you what the "check engine" light really means and if your tire pressure is OK. And it probably will not charge fees and instead support the services through advertising and coupons (which will likely be local services targeted to your car's needs).
And now to present a low-tech gadget that doesn't require recharging. It's a 24" x 52" collapsible nylon shade emblazoned with the visages of Chewy, Luke, Obi-Wan, and Han Solo. It's useful for protecting Star Wars uberfans from their arch enemy, the sun. Just remember to remove the shade and fold it back into its circle shape when driving.
This little device, which works on a DC 12V power supply, can make a car interior pulse with multicolored ultra-bright quadrate LED lights along to the music on the radio. If used while driving, it would also make an effective way to fabulously catch the eye of cops waiting in speed traps.
The iRadar is another smartphone gadget that works with the iPhone and Android. A radar detector communicates via Bluetooth to the phone, which alerts the driver via visual and audio alerts of upcoming speed traps, dangerous intersections, and red light cameras.
The 1080 pixel HD HERO is an "on board video and still photo racing camera," says the GoPro website. The rugged camera can be mounted to helmets, cycles, cars, planes, jet skis, boats and other vehicles, whether the intention is to document a road trip, record proof of extreme driving exploits, or have a personal record of mishaps.
This keychain gadget is for forgetful types who lose their cars but don't require the other bells and whistles of the Mavia Autobot. In fact, it's designed for simplicity, with two buttons. Park the car, push the button on the device, and the car's position is logged via GPS. Push
another button when it's time to leave, and the mystery of Where Did I Park has been solved.
Some would call this a tool for spies, private eyes, parents, and possibly stalkers. Whatever the motivations, this device allows the user to monitor the travels of a chosen car, providing a "detailed report of places, routes, and speeds traveled." Just like in the movies, this tracer is attached covertly to the car with its magnet, then it uses GPS technology for keeping track of the car. The car's daily travels can be viewed using Google Earth, which allows the user to zoom in on each stop the car made. Two AAA batteries will last long enough (conserved using a sleep mode on the device) to provide the user with three weeks of information.
Price: approx. $50
Since that previous gadget was so unsettling, we conclude this list of gadgets with a palate cleanser: a happy dog going "bye bye car" with its family. This pup's owners' future back-seat passengers are the real beneficiaries of this protective quilted twill seat cover, because they
can sit on the hammock-free, and more importantly pet-hair-free bench seats.