CarVi: teaching an old car new tech tricks

  • AFP
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2015 12:21 IST

CarVi is a device that has ambitions of giving young drivers the automotive equivalent of eyes in the back of their heads while also offering their parents a little more peace of mind.

The problem that this new connected device wants to solve is as simple as it is widespread. Young, recently qualified drivers are the most likely to have an automobile accident -- whether through driving too quickly or irresponsibly, or simply failing to notice another vehicle in a blind spot quickly enough.

Compounding matters is that young drivers are also the most likely to be driving around in an older car without the latest technological safety innovations.

CarVi, which this week hit its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign goal of $100,000, will clamp to a car windscreen and sync with a smartphone in order to help solve both elements of this problem.

It looks like a small robot vacuum cleaner but its camera and sensor aren't looking for dust. Instead they're scanning the road ahead for potential vehicular hazards.

It will alert you if your lane discipline goes array or if the position of the car ahead could be a problem. It also measures the distance between your car and the one ahead to make sure that the gap is big enough that in the event of an emergency stop it's your brakes -- not the impact with another vehicle -- that brings you to a complete stop.

But as well as scanning for dangers, CarVi is also keeping an eye on its owner, looking for poor driving habits and trying to mitigate them through mitigation.

In this respect, the device is similar to Automatic. It is a smart vehicle diagnosis system and driving instructor that plugs directly into a vehicle's diagnostics port and then links wirelessly with a smartphone via an app.

Automatic teaches you how to be a more patient fuel-efficient driver and how to cut down on travelling time but also reports in plain English potential mechanical problems it is identifying in the car and how to go about repairing them.

Carvi's makers seem pretty certain that the device will appeal to the parents of younger drivers and to the children of very elderly drivers too and is priced accordingly.

The Carvi is expected to cost around $449 when it goes into mass production and for that the only installation required is affixing it to the inside of a car windshield, some smartphone synching and then a test drive along a straight road in order to calibrate the camera.

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