View RSS Feed

Recent Blogs Posts

  1. More on CES: Your automator is safely automated

    by , 01-11-2013 at 05:40 PM
    Another slice of the massive tech showcase known as CES was spent focusing on the trends that should have an immediate impact in the evolution of automotive automation. Many aftermarket manufacturers have inched past the practice of trying to safely deliver content to the car in lieu of using hardware systems to process content to create a more engagement and safe automotive environment. I spent the majority of Day 2 scouring the North Hall booths for demos of the gear that will bring some of the high end OEM systems to the aftermarket. The top buzzword from both OEM and aftermarket companies when referencing these systems is the "Connected Car" concept, a term that most people in the mp3Car community have run into in previous years.

    Among the coolest gear in this Connected Car category is Delphi's new OBD-II based Bluetooth 2G adapter. Developed in partnership with Verizon, this device not only has the ability to monitor car systems and control routine functions like car start/stop, but it also can harness available data received and provide users with recommendations on how to automate driving tasks. For example, the device can take user driving habit along with the power of the Verizon mobile network to suggest new routes based on time, distance, or even environmental impact. Of course, another key feature of the Delphi adapter is the ability to control car functions like locks, engine start, and geofences from anywhere. Accompanying apps for the web, Android, and IOS are already available. Unfortunately, the current iteration of the device is limited to 2G communications, making unable to be used as a infotainment hotspot.

    Globalstat's TR600 tracking system is another automation powerhouse. In short, the TR600 is a GPS, GSM, and CANBUS capable I/O device. The TR600 has a total of 9 I/O points (3 Input/ 6 Outputs), and with add on sensors can monitor most any vehicle event and automate tasks based on them. GSM capability means users can also remotely monitor and control I/Os. The TR600 can be used fully autonomously or as a standalone device to control relays via an included serial interface.

    The Mobileye Series 5 is a product aimed specifically at adding collision avoidance systems for any vehicle. The Series 5 is essentially a advanced camera which can identify objects and their respective distances from the vehicle in real-time. The camera can then relay information to either your Android or Apple smartphone, or to the included display module. Multiple data points are available and instantly updated including lane departure warnings, following time indicators, and road sign recognition and indication. On top of these monitoring capabilities, the Series 5 can also automate tasks such as headlight and high-beam control for an active safe driving experience. This is a fascinating system which can be easily tucked away behind the windshield of any vehicle.

    More from CES 2013 to follow.
  2. Hardware Review: Pittasoft BlackVue DR400G-HD Driving Recording Device

    by , 03-22-2012 at 08:35 AM

    What is it?

    The BlackVue DR400G-HD is a high-definition audio/video recording device with built-in GPS & accelerometer. Video is recorded for playback on an included 16GB micro SD flash drive.

    The Verdict:

    The BlackVue DR400G-HD improves over competing video recording devices I've tested with a brighter more vibrant capture and a smaller footprint.

    What’s in the box?

    The DR400G-HD comes with the high-definition camera, a 16GB micro SD card with adapter and USB dongle, a windshield mount with adhesive, a 12 meter cigarette lighter power plug, 3.5mm to composite audio/video cable, and a 3.5mm to composite video cable. Wire looms and instruction/installation manuals are also generously thrown in.


    A few months back I did a review on the Rupel iVox102H driving recorder system. One of the negative points for the device was the size. The iVox102H stood out like a sore thumb though no matter where it was placed on the front windshield. Enter the BlackVue DR400G-HD. Similar in technical specifications, the DR400G-HD is a sleek and visually appealing driving capture device, sitting at a fraction of the overall length and size of the competitor. The DR400G-HD definitely improves on the competitors footprint, but can it stand toe to toe in regard to the one area that matters most, video quality?

    Simply put, the answer is a resounding "yes". In fact, in similar conditions, the DR400G-HD replayed my driving sessions with more color intensity and brightness. The technical specifications on the box indicate the camera sports only a 2mp chip, but it appears that despite the size and weight difference between these two units, the DR400G-HD sacrifices nothing on video quality. The size of the unit has no effect on the angle of view either, giving a nice full windshield view. The size savings comes from the lack of a proprietary solid-state hard drive for the BlackVue. Instead, the DR400G-HD utilizes your every day micro SD card, found in most modern smart phones and handheld electronic devices. Simply install the side card into the slot on the DR400G-HD camera housing, provide 12v power, and the device records away. A small hitch in the ease of installation is the difficulty sliding the tiny micro SD card into the camera for people with left-hand drive vehicles. The card slot is on the right hand side of the unit when it faces outward towards the windshield, and if the camera is mounted in the ideal position (behind the rear-view mirror) it becomes quite the chore to insert/remove the card. Most users may opt to simply uninstall the camera from the included mount instead, which can be easily done with a simple press of the lock button.

    Another knock on the competing iVox102H was the bright light emitting from the device when powered. Sadly, the DR400G-HD triples the number of lights, and even causes the record indicator to blink continuously while powered. Thankfully, these lights can be switched off in the settings menu in the cameras playback program. On top of the visual feedback with the lights, the DR400G-HD also utilizes voice prompts indicating when the device is powered and recording is started. These too can be turned off via the settings menu.

    In speaking of the program, I must state, like the iVox, the BlackVue camera stores its companion playback application on the storage medium. That means the playback application can be run from "any" computer. A somewhat disappointing omission in regard to this application is it can not be run on a 64-bit windows system. Hopefully the software team is working on a fix for this.

    Once running the software application does a great job of allowing users to playback video with accompanying GPS mapping and accelerometer feedback all indicated. Users can select different dates and times to watch, and all files can easily be backed up to a larger external storage medium. This is somewhat important because in my week with the device I've filled up the 16GB card several times over with the video at its highest quality setting.

    The audio capture is a bit muddy, especially when music playing in the background, but its still easy to pick up the conversation of people in the front and rear of the car.

    The Positive:

    • Superior video capture quality
    • Sleek and small means it doesn't stick out on your windshield
    • Auto-power on/off
    • Captures GPS and accelerometer data and uses it for event detection
    • Included software gives you all the video information in a nice GUI
    • Parking mode set automatically by accelerometer feedback

    The Negative:

    • Muddy audio capture
    • Software is not 64-bit ready
    • SD card installation is somewhat a chore based on location of slot on the camera

    The Verdict:

    The BlackVue DR400G-HD improves over competing video recording devices I've tested with a brighter more vibrant capture and a smaller footprint.

  3. These new products are better than the Catalina Wine Mixer! Pow!

    by , 09-09-2011 at 02:29 PM
  4. AFKfest 2009 - Shaun Newman - Car computer install

    by , 08-27-2009 at 08:10 AM

    Rob Wray from mp3Car goes through Shaun's car computer install. Shaun has a fusion brain to control temperature, a 4-way line-in splitter, a CarNetix USB hub, a mic for voice commands, a camera for skype, audio amplifiers, this car is loaded!

    Updated 09-17-2009 at 02:49 PM by optikalefx

    Technology Events