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REPORT: D.C. police chief says drivers who use iPhone to find speed traps are "cowardly"

07/18/2009   [Original: Washington Examiner, Photo by Michael Harley via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Etc., Government/Legal, Tech

D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, frustrated that iPhone technology is one step ahead of the red-light and speed cameras in her jurisdiction, has announced that those who use their hand-held electronic devices are "cowardly" and "...are going to get caught" in one way or another.

The subscription-based software that has Lanier shaking her fists and blurting out names is called PhantomAlert. In a nutshell, its GPS-enhanced database of law enforcement "points of interest" mimics alarms similar to those common to radar detectors (remember, radar detectors are already illegal in Virginia and D.C.). Drivers are alerted to approaching speed traps and photo enforcing locations on in their iPhone, or portable GPS units, enabling them time to slow down.

Not surprising when you consider that the greater D.C. area is home to nearly 10 percent of all traffic cameras in the U.S., according to experts. Chief Lanier is frustrated that the innovative technology is "designed to circumvent law enforcement -- law enforcement that is designed specifically to save lives." What Lanier seems to be forgetting is that attentive drivers using PhantomAlert will be slowing down at all 290 enforcement zones... saving countless lives in the process.

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Gentlemen, Start Your Lasers: Ford dumping spark plugs in favor of focused light?

07/16/2009   [Original: Telegraph UK | Image: New Line Cinema via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Tech, Ford

In a breakthrough that may make vehicle starting issues due to fouled plugs or inclement weather a thing of the past, engineers at Ford have reportedly teamed with scientists at Liverpool University to develop a laser beam ignition system to replace ye olde spark plug. The researchers claim their technology is more efficient, more reliable, and it will enable vehicles to start easier in extreme temperatures and damp climates.

Unlike traditional spark plugs (invented way back in 1839 by Edmond Berger), laser light may be split into multiple beams distributing ignition points within the cylinders - not just at the tip of the plug. This not only aids combustion, it also lowers emissions during cold starts. Researchers also point out that the lasers use less energy than their spark plug counterparts, eliminate wear items and wires (fiber optics will carry the laser beam to the cylinders), and improve fuel burn by "watching" ignition from within the combustion chamber and sending messages back to the ECU to adjust fuel mixtures, timing, and ignition.

Ford is expected to introduce the technology in its top models within the next few years, and then make it more widely available. Thanks to everyone for the tips!

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Pioneer using WiMax to send content to your car

06/26/2009   [Original: Engadget via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Tech, Lifestyle

Pioneer's prototype mobile network AV playback system - Click above to view the video after the jump

With so many infotainment devices being created, we're beginning to wonder what people are actually doing in their cars -- or rather, if they ever get out of their cars. Pioneer has thrown another electronic log onto the in-car streaming entertainment fire with its prototype network A/V playback system that uses WiMax. That means that any media you keep digitally stored at home could conceivably be streamed to your car.

We say conceivably because it will be a while before cities have enough WiMax coverage to make it all work. But when they do, your TiVo can go along for the ride. Because the device is mobile, you could also use it to watch something in another area of your house, or while relaxing in your backyard. You know, places where it makes a little more sense to be watching movies... Follow the jump to see a short video on the system.

Continue reading Pioneer using WiMax to send content to your car

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Analyst: Detroit 3 to be outproduced by foreign transplants on U.S. soil by 2012

06/23/2009   [Original: Grand Thornton via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Green, Safety, Lifestyle

If you think life can't get any worse for the bloodied and battered Detroit three automakers and their suppliers, you're wrong - at least according to a new study from Grant Thornton LLP's Corporate Advisory and Restructuring Service. The Accounting and management consulting firm forecasts that U.S. automakers will produce fewer vehicles on U.S. soil than Asian and European automakers by the year 2012 despite an expected return to profitability.

Included in these projections are a 35% reduction in U.S. manufacturing by domestic automakers and a 20% increase from import automakers like Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. The end result would be a total of 7.5 million units from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors and eight million from all other automakers combined.

With that in mind, Grand Thornton has some advice for North American suppliers that manage to make it through the next few years but still find themselves tied too closely to domestic automakers: diversify now or face the consequences. Hit the jump for the press release.

Continue reading Analyst: Detroit 3 to be outproduced by foreign transplants on U.S. soil by 2012

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VIDEO: LightLane adds instant bike lane for night bicycle rides

06/23/2009   [Original: LightLane via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Green, Safety, Lifestyle

LightLane - Click above to watch a video after the jump

There's no question that well-designed and implemented bike lanes improve safety for cyclists by making them less likely to be hit by passing automobiles, and that's especially true after the sun goes down. LightLane thinks it has the solution in the form of frickin' laser beams downward-pointing green lasers on either side of a flashing red LED tail lamp. Designed to clamp on to nearly any seatpost, as the bicycle moves forward, an instant virtual bike lane appears in bright green on either side of the rider.

A single charge of the onboard lithium ion battery pack provides three hours of continuous use, and any universal cell phone charger is reportedly capable of recharging the battery pack. We'd still suggest wearing a reflective jacket or vest along with the rest of the applicable safety gear, but anything that improves the safety of cyclists is fine by us. Click past the break for a video of a LightLane prototype in action.

Continue reading VIDEO: LightLane adds instant bike lane for night bicycle rides

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eBay Find of the Day: Back to the Future DeLorean replica [w/VIDEO]

06/18/2009   [Original:

1981 DeLorean Time Machine - Click above for high-res image gallery

The way we see it, if you're going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style? Thankfully, Hollywood's Doc Brown agreed with us. In this case, style equals a 1981 DeLorean with 31,854 original miles and tons of Back to the Future props built in. We're not exactly experts on the subject or anything, but this particular DeLorean time machine replica looks pretty darn accurate to us.

The actual car bits are as you'd expect. Like the DeLorean used in the classic movie from 1985, this car is powered by a 2.8-liter V6 engine driving the rear wheels, albeit the power in this one flow through a three-speed automatic transmission. No surprises there. Of course, the car's coup de grâce is the "fully functional" flux capacitor and matching set of time circuits. You can even check out the car in action in a priceless Back to the Future video sendup after the jump, or check out the gallery below that's studded with b-list celebrity cameos.

Want to take the nearly complete Back to the Future Time Machine home with you? Now's your chance. Buy it Now price: $60,000. You've got just a few more hours before - ahem - time runs out.

Gallery: eBay FOTD: 1981 DeLorean Time Machine

Continue reading eBay Find of the Day: Back to the Future DeLorean replica [w/VIDEO]

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VIDEO: Gran Turismo PSP footage gets out

06/10/2009   [Original: GT Planet via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Videos, Toys

Gran Turismo for PSP Go demo: Click above to watch video after the jump

Fans of Gran Turismo are rejoicing over the fifth edition of the legendary racing series that was shown at the E3 gaming expo last week. The world-renown racing sim will also debut a new version for the Sony PSP Go this October, and it It boasts 60 frames-per-second rendering, 800 cars, 35 tracks and the ability to play against three friends over wi-fi - pretty good specs for a portable game.

Last week we showed you a trailer of GT5 for the decidedly non-portable PS3, and now we've got actual running footage of the portable game being played. Hit the jump to view a Nissan GT-R taking on all comers in the newest and smallest edition to the Gran Turismo franchise. You can also see some sweet screen shots of the new GT by viewing the gallery below.

Gallery: Gran Turismo PSP

Continue reading VIDEO: Gran Turismo PSP footage gets out

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Eyes on the Road: AT&T bringing CruiseCast in-car satellite tv to market

05/25/2009   [Original: Engadget via Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Gadgets, Etc., I.C.E.

AT&T is starting to work with pockets of customers to test its CruiseCast satellite-based entertainment service before officially putting the TV/radio service on wide offer. When the whole clan is on the go, it may work to keep everyone calm and quiet, and when your Prevost motor coach is loaded up with everything else, you might as well go for the TV service, too. Truckers sticking DBS dishes on their rigs would likely be pleased with the CruiseCast system, especially since AT&T is using some new technology developments by RaySat that defeats the typical issues with line of sight obstacles and underpasses.

For comparison's sake, Sirius is cheaper and offers much more variety than AT&T's 20 music/talk radio stations, but their optional Backseat TV service only offers three television channels, and they are all geared for the kiddies. Conversely, AT&T's CruiseCast hardware must be professionally installed and will set you back $1,299, and the monthly payment is $28. Once the service is available for all customers in early June, they'll have 22 television channels to choose from. All that for the price of a used car and more than $300 bucks a year in subscription costs. Official press release posted after the jump.

Continue reading Eyes on the Road: AT&T bringing CruiseCast in-car satellite tv to market

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REPORT: Volkswagen's next-gen nav system to get Apple iPhone-like gestures

05/21/2009   [Original: CNET, Photo by CNET via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Etc., Tech, Volkswagen

Vehicle infotainment systems, those all-inclusive interfaces controlling the myriad electronics on today's modern cars and trucks, can make or break the driving experience. CNET is offering us a sneak-peek at Volkswagen's latest iteration from the company's Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL). Developed with Intel, the new system uses Global Open Research Infotainment Architecture, or GLORIA.

Most systems today us a joystick-like device, touch screen, or hard buttons on the edge of the display (or a combination of the three) to control the inputs. Volkswagen's new GLORIA system takes it one step further by making Apple iPhone-like "gesture control" possible. This means that users are able to navigate quickly by simply tracing single letters across the pressure-sensitive display. Another unique feature may allow users to import third-party widgets for the system, much like consumers currently load apps from iTunes onto their iPhones. As cool as it sounds, GLORIA is still under development and she isn't expected to see showrooms for a few more years.

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Google Street View switching to trikes for roads less traveled

05/21/2009   [Original: Google via Wired via Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, Etc., Euro, Tech

Google has already faced plenty of issues with its Street View technology, not the least of which has been angry Japanese citizens and invasion of privacy lawsuits from Americans whose driveways were mistaken for a roads. Beyond these unforeseen issues, there's also the rather obvious problem of taking images of places a Chevy Cobalt just can't reach. Consider that problem (at least partially) solved with the new Google Trike.

The three-wheeled, human-powered overgrown tricycles carry 250 pounds of ballast in the form of "a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry," says the internet giant. All that extra heft reportedly requires a "specially trained super fit" rider.

Google's new trikes will be deployed first in Genoa, Italy, this spring. Assuming that launch proves successful, Google will send its pedal-powered cameras to the United Kingdom, where they'll point their lenses towards a slew of famous British landmarks. Have a good one in mind? Google says its open to suggestions and will be working with VisitBritain to pick the most desirable locations to shoot.

To assuage those averse to getting their pictures taken, Google promises to "apply our face-blurring and license plate blurring to all these images to protect people's privacy."

Continue reading Google Street View switching to trikes for roads less traveled

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