How tech-savvy is your car?

Hindustan Times
New Delhi
First Published: 12:39 IST(19/8/2014)
Last Updated: 12:12 IST(20/8/2014)
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Gizmos and gadgets are not just about glamour, they add great value to your riding experience and to your vehicle’s safety. Some must-haves:

Bluetooth on your 3 car stereo

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Till a few years back we could change the factory-fitted stereo, but this is not possible with most cars now. So if you need to add a bluetooth feature, what do you do?

1. Buy a bluetooth receiver that plugs into your car stereo ( Rs. 800 onwards)

2. Buy a Jabra Freeway speakerphone; it works both as a speakerphone, and to stream your smartphone’s music via FM to your car stereo ( Rs. 3,000 onwards)

3. Buy a car with a built-in bluetooth stereo, if possible with a handsfree

Cruise Control

Gone are the days that India’s highways were filled with potholes with roads such as the Yamuna Expressway and the Mumbai-Pune highway. On such roads, a car that offers cruise control would be a dream. Put the car in the highest gear, set the speed and sit back and relax. The car keeps driving at the same speed; all you need to do is steer — and stay alert. Driverless cars may be the future, but cruise control is very much today

On-board diagnostics

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Upscale cars have dashboards and interactive displays that will tell you everything that is happening in the car. But after-market gadgets are also available.

1. The bluetooth ELM327 sensor plugs into the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port in your car near the steering wheel. Pair it with your smartphone, install the application, and now you have a cool dashboard that shows you engine RPM, actual fuel burnt and many such cool things. Sensors start as low as Rs. 1,500

2. Automatic (www.automatic.com) has a dongle that does even more: it lets you know how you are driving, what you need to change to get better mileage, and even alerts your family in case of an accident. Available only in the US, @$99.95 ( Rs. 6,000)

Internet connectivity

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If you are a family travelling in a car, chances are everyone is on the Internet, so why not Internet enable your car?

1. Get a 12 Volt to USB car charging adapter ( Rs. 499 onwards) 2. After that just plug in a Wi-Fi dongle ( Rs. 2,000 onwards) and you have a wireless Internet connection for all your devices. Voila! your car is now Net enabled

Navigation

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Imagine you don’t want to roll down the window and ask for directions. You can always use your smartphone and pull up directions. Applications such as Nokia Offl ine Maps on Windows Phones; and MapMyIndia on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry give you navigation even when there is no Internet connectivity. Downside: you have to handle the phone as well as the car — not a good idea

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1. Companies such as Map My India have stereo systems for most cars, with built-in navigation. Prices start at Rs. 19,990

2. You can also buy standalone navigation devices (starting Rs. 6,490)

3. The Garmin HUD+ (Heads up Display), which pairs with your smartphone (Android and iOS) via bluetooth ( Rs. 15,000 and up)

Coming soon to cars

Driver's Friend

Cars that talk to each other; avoid collisions among other things

Good Housekeeper

Cars that collect data about you, and do things like automatically switching on the porch light when you come in to park the car

Driver Monitoring

Are you alert or sleepy? Are you hydrated? Is your blood pressure all right? All this and more ...

Inflatable Airbags Outside the car

Crazy idea? But companies are working on it. So if there is a bad crash, not just passengers but pedestrians and the car itself will also be protected

Automatic Parking, Retrieval

After the recent fi asco at a fi ve-star hotel in Delhi, owners of expensive cars can’t be blamed for mistrusting valet parking! With this technology, you can use your smartphone to send the car to the parking lot and park itself, and also to return to you once you are done with your shopping or appointment


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