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  1. A quick flying lesson with the AR Drone, by Parrot

    by , 01-26-2011 at 03:53 PM

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    After goofing around with it at the office last week, we decided to post a quick review of the AR Drone by Parrot. Since shooting the video, I also managed to fracture the Drone's cross-bar, which costs a reasonable $25 to replace. So, while it's not the cheapest or most durable gadget, it is a lot of fun, and definitely less expensive than some other flying hobbies--like building your own model plane from scratch (and then crashing it in the office).

    Updated 02-10-2011 at 10:25 PM by optikalefx

    Categories
    Products and Technology
  2. Drive Testing The Latest Safety Systems With Ford

    by , 01-25-2011 at 03:08 PM
    Mike Shulman, a technology leader at Ford, explains current efforts to expand active safety technology in vehicles. As opposed to passive safety technology, in which cars are designed to protect passengers in the event of an accident, active safety technology is designed to avoid an accident in the first place. This is done by designing vehicles that are capable of collecting information from their surroundings: lane markings, other vehicles, traffic signals, etc. The challenge is developing technology that can communicate quickly, frequently, effectively, and securely. But, the potential upside is clear: a dramatic decrease in the number of traffic accidents (early estimates are in the 80% range).

    This is why Ford is cooperating with its competitors—virtually every other auto manufacturer—to try to establish an all-inclusive standard for equipping all vehicles with wireless communications technology. Toward that end, the FCC has allocated a certain range of wireless space that is dedicated to this project and shared by the entire industry.

    Ford has been showing off these new features by conducting WiFi and crash avoidance demonstrations with its new vehicles. Each is equipped with wireless technology that allows each vehicle to communicate with each other. So, information like which lane a car is in or if another driver is about to run a red light is sent from one vehicle to another, warning the driver of a potential collision. Because the vehicles are communicating with each other in addition to transmitting GPS information, the relative accuracy is surprisingly good: less than one meter.

    The idea is to securely transmit safety information about ten times a second that is accurate within one meter.Perhaps even more exciting is the aftermarket possibilities for this technology. For a nominal cost, any vehicle can be equipped with a gadget that will incorporate this technology. There is even discussion about integrating it into smartphones and other devices, which may decrease vehicle/pedestrian accidents as well. In addition, because traffic information could be transmitted more effectively and accurately, drivers could avoid congested areas by responding to constantly updated traffic data.


    A look at the antennas and the technology behind the safety systems with Joe Stinnett

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    We take the Car for a Drive with Ford Engineers Joe Stinnett & Farid Ahmed-Zaid

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    An Interview with Mike Shulman about some more of the technical details of the systemsand some thoughts about when you can buy this technology and how much it will cost.

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    Updated 02-05-2011 at 04:46 PM by optikalefx

    Categories
    Technology Events
  3. Garmin Mobile PC Nav software dies, no replacement planned

    by , 01-23-2011 at 12:31 PM
    Garmin's Windows based Navigation software marketed as "Garmin Mobile PC" has officially been discontinued.

    Mp3car reviewed the software back in May of 2008. *The community has loved it and even created their own graphics skins and on screen keyboards that were lacking in the original version. (photo of discontinued logo).

    It should also be noted that this was the navigation software shipped with companies like Toshiba and Fujitsu for their smaller form factor Ultra mobile windows computers. One of our community members emailed Garmin and here was the response:

    "Dear Customer, Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I will be happy to help you with this. I am sorry that Mobile PC has been discontinued. No further product releases have been announced for this sector at this time, I apologize for any inconvenience. Please reply to this email if you have any additional questions. "

    Updated 01-23-2011 at 12:43 PM by Fiberoptic

    Categories
    Products and Technology
  4. Hardware Review: MJS Gadgets USB-IO-1 Relay/Input Device

    by , 01-19-2011 at 01:07 PM

    What is it?

    The MJS USB-IO-1 is a input/output device which allows users to control 4 relays and read 4 digital inputs.

    The Verdict:

    The MJS USB-IO-1 is the absolute perfect device for a user looking for clean and simple control of relays from a car PC. A beginner can easily install the device and control it from their favorite front end in a matter of minutes. It's second duty as a digital input sensor will also become extremely useful once users find more ways to implement it into their setup. The device lacks the quantity of connections and some of the bells and whistles of competing devices, but the trade-off may certainly be worth it.

    The MJS USB-IO-1 is available at the mp3Car store



    What's in the box?

    The MJS USB-IO-1 comes with the device, a usb to mini-usb cable, and driver CD.


    Description:

    The MJS USB-IO-1 is the latest of devices which allow users to read and control inputs and outputs from a PC. There are other devices on the market which have this same ability, but the USB-IO-1 has some clear cut benefits. The primary benefit is the fact that the device is controlled and powered via USB. This allows simplicity in wiring and increases installation options on car computing platforms. It's also the only I/O device that comes in its own casing. Each connection made to the USB-IO-1 is done with a phoenix-style crimp connector, assuring a clean and solid connection. The terminals on the MJS USB-IO-1 are also removable, again, aiding in the ease of product installation. When dealing with the small screws which the product uses to secure wiring it comes in handy to be able to remove the connector from the unit base.


    Yet another improvement over other computer-controlled output modules is the fact the MJS USB-IO-1 features four on-board 1-amp relays. To use one of the relays you simply plug the device into a USB port (it uses standard windows HID drivers), connect your 12v source wire to one port and the 12v output wire to the adjacent port. Very simple when compared to the need to purchase seperate automotive-style relays. You can even adjust the individual relays from NO (normally opened) to NC (normally closed) with a quick change of a jumper setting. It's very clear that ease of installation and control were key facets to the design of this device.


    The other core feature of the MJS USB-IO-1 is the ability to read voltages from 4 independent digital inputs. These inputs allow users to detect signals between 5-30 volts and automate actions based of their status. The device currently has a standalone software control option, as well as extension plug ins for the front ends RideRunner and Centrafuse. While the interfaces for the software options vary, the end result is control and automation which is mastered within a touch-friendly interface. The creator has even been kind enough to create a separate software utility which will easily assign actions to the on/off states of each digital input.


    The one drawback of the MJS USB-IO-1 device is directly attributed to its charming quality. Because of its size (the case measures a mere 10.5 x 4.5 x 2.5cm) and simplicity the device is limited to 4 outputs and 4 inputs. Users which need more than the included options can purchase additional units and integrate them seamlessly into the software options, but at a price point that would surely exceed other options. There are also no analog input options for handling things like temperature and photo-sensors.

    The Positive:

    • USB powered removes the need for a 5 or 12v source
    • Small form factor
    • On-board relays for ease of installation
    • Standalone and front end software options available
    • Com Object control class available
    • Device comes encased

    The Negative:

    • Limited input/output options when compared to competitors
    • No offline (PC shutdown) control
    • Lacks analog inputs

    The Verdict:

    The MJS USB-IO-1 is the absolute perfect device for a user looking for clean and simple control of relays from a car PC. A beginner can easily install the device and control it from their favorite front end in a matter of minutes. It's second duty as a digital input sensor will also become extremely useful once users find more ways to implement it into their setup. The device lacks the quantity of connections and some of the bells and whistles of competing devices, but the trade-off may certainly be worth it.

    The MJS USB-IO-1 is available at the mp3Car store

    Updated 01-19-2011 at 01:20 PM by Sonicxtacy02

    Categories
    Product Reviews
  5. Nokia QML Rapid Development - CES 2011

    by , 01-14-2011 at 04:02 PM

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    Sean Clark from mp3Car speaks with Justin from ICS, who has made a demo piece of software to highlight how easy it can be to develop QT apps. These apps are built using QML, which is specifically designed for creating user interfaces.

    Some of the really attractive features of this new QML is that it has great animated transitions and state changes built into the language. It can even give you that "flick to scroll - bounce at the end" feeling.

    Now, photoshop can be utilized to design these interfaces. This creates a method for rapid development where the designer creates the interface in photoshop and the programmer can then work with each photoshop object as a QML item.

    check out http://qt.nokia.com and http://www.ics.com/ for more details

    Updated 01-16-2011 at 05:34 PM by Fiberoptic

    Categories
    Technology Events