Pioneer AVIC-F500BT

Pioneer AVIC F500BTPioneer wants to get its hands in the auto navigation and auto multimedia market with the creation of the AVIC-F500BT. Pioneer calls the F500BT a “hybrid”, and that word is getting thrown around a lot within the auto industry, it applies to this automotive device as well.

After all, the AVIC-F500BT is a mix of many devices. First of all, it is a fantastic navigation system. There are mapping functions that can be viewed in both overhead and moveable 3D. The screen is a 5.8 inch touchscreen, and the directions are text-to-speech enabled by street. The database includes maps of the United States, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Second, the AVIC-F500BT is a Media Center. There is an auxiliary audio input for personal audio and communication devices. It can accept portable devices with a USB connection and SD memory cards. As soon as anything is attached, such as a memory card or iPod, it will recognize it for the user to interface.

The AVIC-F500BT also has the advantage of voice control that allows users to control their iPod players and Bluetooth enabled cell phones. The voice controls for the music allows for such commands as “Play Rolling Stones”, and you can even specify an album. As for the vocal phone commands, all a user has to do is say: “Call John Smith”, and the F500BT will ask the user which specific phone number: mobile or home.

Night Vision Glasses makes driving at night much easier …

TH Night Vision glasses

Darkness not only removes light from the scene when you’re driving, it also takes out contrast, leaving a night driver with the bright spotlight cast by the car’s headlights, and any other place where light is cast by streetlights, a full moon, billboard lights, etc. It’s a light/dark world with no degree of shade or contrast. High-end sports watch maker tag heuer has recognized that the ability to see varying degrees of light and dark can add that contrast and have created a pair of Night Vision glasses to help drivers to see – even when no light is cast. Here’s how they work:

Originally designed to help drivers in the 24 Hours of LeMans auto race, the Tag Hauer glasses amp up contrast by correcting the low-light short-sightedness of the human eye, which only sees about 10% at night. The pale yellow lenses offer constant clear, sharp vision with a very high light transmission rate in order to contrast dark blue and green surroundings without changing color perception. In addition, the lenses are anti-reflective to reduces glare and increase sharpness, taking added strain off the eyes.
The titanium frames come Wide and Panorama, and have anti-slip elastomere arms to keep them on your head.

Other designs include infra red glasses to see better in the harsh light environment of snow or beaches where ultra violet rays and infra read heat are reflected in the eyes up to 80%.

No word on pricing, but for those who make living on the road or at the beach or snow (like Ski Patrol), these glasses are easily must have tools of the trade.

CallMe Prism-I

CallMe Prism-IWhile driving down the highway one day, I had this fantastic idea for an inter-auto communication device. This way, you can communicate with the guy in front of you and sent messages like “you’re driving too slow”. I had this idea that all license plates could be something like phone numbers to communicate between cars.

However, since most people have cellular phones now, you could probably just call the car in front of you. How would you know the phone number? Just suction cup the CallMe Prism-I to your rear window.

This device is simply a programmable LCD that is solar powered, and can store about ten numbers. Apparently, the CallMe Prism-I is probably not designed to be an inter-automobile communication system. It is a way for desperate guys or girls to proudly display their digits to anyone passing by.

So its actual intended use could be real handy. After all, I can’t count how many times I’ve lost the opportunity to chat with a sexy pedestrian simply because I couldn’t give her my number before the light turned green. Also, I’ve lost count of all those times I’ve seen a beautiful driver and was unable to obtain her number for the aforementioned reason.

Plug-in hybrids the next big thing? by Edwin - on March 17, 2008


Hybrid vehicles are always welcome in my book, since the earth is already being overloaded by too many people, too much waste and an imbalanced system of wealth distribution. Encouraging people to take public transport instead of just riding around in their fuel guzzlers for fun does take some getting used to, since most folks prefer the privacy of their car. What happens when you try to prick their conscience from another point of view? What if they know that if they were riding on a hybrid bus that does it’s part in reducing carbon emissions, will they take the plunge then? Until these plug-in hybrids are well distributed all over the world in congested cities, that answer remains theoretical. I’m not here to talk about that though, but will concentrate instead on this efficient and pollution limiting plug-in hybrids.

Plug-in hybrid buses are part of the next step when it comes to improving green technology in vehicles. Since these buses will rely more and more on the grid to get juiced up while weaning themselves off diesel in the process, emissions will be reduced drastically. This fact is also true despite coal being used as the power plant’s energy source. What makes plug-in hybrids all the more appealing is the fact that electricity doesn’t always have to be generated via coal (that’s what I learned in Simcity back in the early 90s anyway), but other green uses have also come into play thus far including solar and wind energy.

Well I guess hybrid plug-ins are the way to go, considering that it isn’t exactly convenient to find a power grid nearby whenever the vehicle’s batteries run out of juice. Even so, some diesel firepower is better than running on diesel all the time. Wireless recharging in Japan has already arrived, and the new fleet of buses that use this feature are currently being tested over a two-week period.

Portra-Jump is tiny, will jump start your car

Porta-JumpHow many times have you gone out to start your car (truck, SUV) only to find that you’ve done something like left your headlights on? This of course means that you’re going to have a fun time trying to get it started again. Your best bet is to grab a pair of jumper cables (always carry these) and try to find someone willing to give you a jump. However, if you have a Porta-Jump, you won’t need to worry about messing with any of that.

This is one of those gadgets that will become almost a necessity to carry around, provided it works as well as it boasts. The cube measures 3” x 3” x 2-1/2”, which is much smaller than any such device I’ve ever seen. All you need to do is plug it into your cigarette adapter and wait for the little green light to come on. Once this happens your car is ready to be started.

The Porta-Jump is rechargeable, you’ll just need to leave it plugged in (while you’re driving) for about a half hour for a full charge. With it being so small it is perfect to carry around in your glove compartment.

Mio announces Moov line

mio-moov.jpgMio Technology has forged ahead with its new Moov product line consisting of four new personal navigation devices which boasts a marriage of dependable hardware as well as a fresh user interface. This will be the first set of Mio Technology products that incorporate internally developed software after making full use of the company’s recent acquisition of Navman. The four models in question are the Mio Moov 200, 210, 300 and 310,, where any of these four will be able to offer straightforward navigation minus the hassles and headaches, while providing bang for your buck.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release.

Mio Moov 300 and 310 both feature a 4.3-inch widescreen window to the world of navigation, which allows for more on-screen information. The devices also incorporate text-to-speech functionality to call out actual street names when making turns, to help drivers keep their eyes on the road. These features, paired with a redesigned user interface and more than 3.5 million points of interest — including restaurants, hotels and gas stations — help users find new hot spots in their neighborhoods and beyond, turning everyday driving into a daily adventure.

Mio Moov 310 also comes with a one-year paid Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC) subscription. Powered by ClearChannel’s network of affiliates, TMC provides real-time updates on accidents, detours and construction that could delay or prevent drivers from reaching their destination. TMC updates are automatically displayed by the Moov 310, along with suggestions for routes around the obstruction.

Mio Moov 200 and 210 sport a 3.5-inch, square-shaped display with a bright, anti-glare screen for easy viewing in any environment. The devices take the hassle out of driving with text-to-speech voice guidance to let drivers focus on the road, not on the GPS screen. Mio also incorporated more than 3.5 million points of interest into Moov 200 and 210 to ensure that everything from the gas station on the corner to the local Italian restaurant is within reach. Mio also tackles one of the biggest challenges facing drivers today — traffic. Mio Moov 210 includes 12 months of free TMC real-time traffic updates, making it easier for users to route around trouble areas. All of these features for less than $200; being square never sounded so good.

Toyota Hi-CT Concept Car

Toyota Hi-CT Concept Car

Have you ever seen that Element that some people have been driving? I always thought those rectangular cars were odd, like giant shoeboxes. It appears that Toyota has rolled out an environmentally friendly box-shaped car.

The Toyota Hi-Ct concept car was first shown at the Bangkok International Motor Show, but not at the more famous New York Auto Show. This hybrid vehicle can charge from an external electric source, such as a AC100V accessory socket.

Information is pretty limited other than that, for now. Judging by the picture, it appears there is only room enough for two. So much for room for the whole family. I suppose they could hang out on that back flap of the trunk.

I swear, every time I see one of these concept cars, it feels like it’s driving out of a science fiction movie. This one feels like one of Steven Spielberg’s. The cars in A.I.sort of looked like this, and if you look close in a certain scene from Minority Report, there is a car that really resembles this one.

I suppose the green era that we will hopefully be living in will produce more cars like this. Hopefully, they have a little more curves on them.

Microsoft helps save your time

clearflow.jpgPerhaps after all this while grappling with Blue Screens of Death while using Microsoft products, the company’s conscience has finally been pricked as they decide to help you save time instead of waste it with the aforementioned problem by launching a software technology known as “Clearflow”. Not only does this software helps drivers with directions, it can also be used to avoid traffic jams so that you will be able to arrive home in time for dinner with the missus. The technology involved has been in the works for the better part of the last half decade, thanks to the efforts of AI researchers from Microsoft’s Research lab. Clearflow aims to alleviate traffic congestion by applying machine-learning techniques. When launched, Clearflow will support 72 cities in the US and is available via Microsoft’s service.

Audi Snook

Audi SnookWhen I was in high school, I read this dark science fiction novel by Piers Anthony entitledThe Ring. In this work, the author (who is most famous for his fantasy) presents us with a world full of gyrocars, one-passenger vehicles that somehow rode on just one wheel.

I don’t know if Tilmann Schootz, German designer of the Audi Snook, has ever readThe Ring, but it certainly looks like his inspiration for his auto-stabilized monowheel concept car. Maybe the bright idea light bulb went off above his head, and he designed his car in the shape of it. Whatever the case, Schootz has won a Michelin Challenge Design Award at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show for his vision.

You may look at the Snook and think “that’s impossible” or “there’s no way that could stand” or “I’m not driving that”. However, I believe we were all thinking the same things when the Segway was revealed. The Snook achieves its one-wheel balance with “agility through instability, controlled by artificial intelligence”.

If this concept ever does become reality, then we really need to change the name. Just what is a Snook? That sounds like some creature on a Saturday Morning cartoon.

Exhaust Air Jack

Exhaust_JackWhen you get a flat tire you have a couple of options… you can tackle it like a man and just jack up the car like you should, or you can be a wimp and call recovery to do it for you. For those of you who hate getting on your knees, putting the jack in place and flexing your muscles there is now an alternative option named the Exhaust air jack.

The exhaust air jack is a bright orange bag which you throw under the side of your car. Once there, you hook up the pipe to your exhaust and switch on your engine. The exhaust fumes that are pumped out go in to the bag and will jack up the car within 30 seconds. The bag can lift the car 17 inches off the ground which is plenty of space to allow you to get the wheel off. To prevent exhaust fumes escaping there is a one way valve in to the bag which allows you to switch off the engine while keeping the bag inflated. There are other benefits of owning this product too as it works in in mud, snow and on uneven surfaces.

Miscellaneous Gadgets,Automotive Gadgets

hawkingdish.jpgRemember the scene in INDEPENDENCE DAY when Jeff Goldblum places a satellite like dish on the roof of his dad’s car and triangulates the signal of his wife’s cellphone to determine where she was in the White House? His dad asks him how he can do that and he replies “all cable repair men know how to do this, pop.” Well, the Hi-Gain USB Wss 300n Dish Adapter from Hawking Technologies won’t triangulate a signal in the White House, but it will boost weak WiFi signals in areas where a signal isn’t very strong to begin with.

Wifi extender graphic

With a supports range of nearly 4,000 feet, this 802.11n capable antenna can extend a wireless network up to six times its range and claims a data throughput 12 times the average for transfer speeds in excess of 300Mbps. IN addition, the 300-N is purely plug and play by USB and is portable. Simply plug the 300N into your laptop, install the included software, and direct the HWDN1 towards a wireless source. The result will be blazing speeds when the only open chair at Starbucks is wrapped around rebar yielding a paltry 1 bar signal.

Just don’t tell those invading aliens we can do that. Otherwise they’ll use our wi-fi signal to cripple our defenses.

MultiFunction GPS Mirror has everything but the kitchen sink

The multifunction GPS bluetooth Rearview System provides complete 12 satellite GPS navigation, with voice prompting for directions and also has a reverse sensor to monitor backing up. It incorporates an SD card expansion slot and can play both MP3s as well as video formats for Windows Media Player and Quicktime MPEG4 with built in speakers giving the viewer a stereo experience. The mirror also reads JPEG pictures which turns the mirror into a photo album and you can even read eBooks through it!

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Multifunction GPS Bluetooth Rearview Mirror System also has five built in games and a stylus to navigate the interactive menu screens. It’s 3.5 inch touchscreen LCD is battery powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Now if they’d also toss in a subscription to OnStar, DirecTV and provide hands free cell communication, it’s be the perfect package. But for $145, this Rearview Mirror may be an ideal add-on to bring any classic into the twenty first century.

Drivemocion Expresses Your Feelings Behind the Wheel

I’ve never been the type to use emoticons in my IM messages or emails, but I know some people who cannot stop using them.

So why not use them while you are driving? This is the reason the Drivemocion was invented.

The Drivemocion affixes to the inside of the rear car window via power suction cup. It is operated by a remote control for the front of the car that attaches to the front windscreen. All you need to do is press a button to send simple emoticon messages to motorists.

The Drivemocion comes in several models, which have several options for message displays. For example, the original model has a smiley face, winking face, an “Ooooo” face, plus two words of “sorry” and “thanks”.

That is one of the nicer models. Some of you might be relieved or agitated to know that there is a Drivemocion that allows the middle finger to be displayed. For the sake of the more easily offended readers, such as myself, I have chosen not to show the electronic bird.

Japanese Dekotora Trucks

Outside of Asia, Japan is known for two things; blisteringly cool technology and awesomely tacky gadgetry. In a perfect merger of both of these factors, the people of Japan have whipped out yet another awesome combination of large flashy toys and kitschy art.

Dekotora Trucks are highly customized trucks which the cult Japanese community decks out to look like artsy monsters. You could easily confuse one of these Dekotora trucks as something other than an automotive, yet the brute power behind these pieces is enough to cause geeks to wet themselves with envy.

Participants in the Dekotora community get together for truck shows where they showcase their prized vehicles. Sometimes these monsters are used as special art promotion trucks at events. And something tells us that they surely draw a crowd.

If we had the money, there is no doubt we would create a Dekotora of our own to cruise around the suburbs, scaring children and possibly mowing down a few nuns on the way. And if we didn’t have vehicular homicide on our minds, we’d no doubt be showing these bad boys off to all the ladies.

Miscellaneous Gadgets,Automotive Gadgets

There are times when I struggle to find ideas for Coolest Gadget articles, but sometimes, one will just appear. This was the case of the Zapcar. One moment I’m watching my kids play on the playground, and then the Xebra Electric Sedan pulls up, just begging to be written about.

Once I saw this unusual three-wheeled car, I had to ask the owners about it. I was very intrigued once they told me that the vehicle was totally electrical, with absolutely no gas or petrol is involved. The owners even opened up the lid where the gas should go on an ordinary car, and all I saw was an ordinary electric socket.

To fuel this vehicle, all a Zapcar driver needs to do is hook that socket up to an extension cord, and plug the other end into an ordinary wall outlet. The Xebra Electric Sedan can travel up to 25 miles on a single charge.

Granted, its top speed is only 40 mph (65 kmph), but if you live in a small town like I do, the Zapcar is a very practical and cost-efficient way to travel. Especially the way gas prices keep going up.

Intelligent Night Vision System

The other day, I was driving down the road, and I changed lanes. I thought I was far enough away from the other vehicles, but then I heard a loud honk. I quickly realized that the car was a lot closer than I thought it was. Considering that a lot of mirrors have that “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” warning, it makes it too easy to miscalculate the distance of a vehicle in the side view mirrors.

Perhaps this is why Toshiba invented Visconti technology, which allows drivers to see how close other vehicles actually are. The company put this technology on display at the 2008 Automotive Engineering Exposition in Yokohama, Japan. Apparently, Honda is already using this Intelligent Night Vision System on some of their models.

Instead of side mirrors, a vehicle with the Intelligent Night Vision System would have video cameras that beam a live video feed to LCD monitors inside of the vehicle. The Visconti software then calculates the distance to the cars in the other lanes around you.

There is even an indicator that displays a red, yellow, or green display to show how close (red) or far away (green) that you are. You’ve got to like that.

Maybe there will come a day when we see this Intelligent Night Vision System on every car. Something tells me the system is probably quite costly, but perhaps as the technology gets cheaper, maybe it will be a standard feature on all vehicles.

V12 Engine made from paper

Now this is one piece of origami that you will definitely find fascinating, and in the words of the designer, it took “approximately two years to design this spectacular magical art”, and the person has made this knowledge public so you can save two years (or more of your life) trying to figure it out.

This “V12 four-stroke Engine” has semi-realistic exterior and interior detail. Each of 12 spark plugs (LEDs) is ignited accordingly to the moving cycle. Many moveable parts include a compound crankshaft, a rapid cooling fan, 12 rods and 12 pistons etc. It is made with paper entirely (except some little wood sticks, some tapes, 12 LEDs, some electrical wires, 12 switches, a resistor, a motor and a battery holder). The instruction included in this kit is a CD-ROM (a PDF file) contains easy-to follow diagrams and step-by-step instructions with more than a thousand detailed nice and clear pictures. All patterns are printed on high quality acid-free heavy paper, which can last for many years and will not turn brittle and yellow or fades with age. No paint applied. It looks pure and elegant. Various shadows created by different light sources make it look stunning. The origami-reinforced structure is applied in the engine (they will not be seen). The origami-reinforced structures make the model very rigid and keep the pieces in the accurate positions.

BMW’s GINA Concept Car is Made of Cloth

When most of us think about new improvements in automobiles, we usually think of better fuel efficiency. However, a recent program by BMW called GINA thinks outside the box by changing the “box” around the car itself.

Simply put, GINA replaces the stagnant metal frame of a car with durable cloth. This cloth is put over a frame, and creates all the stability that is required for a fender, door, or whatever shape is required.

What is really fascinating is that frame can be motorized, so when portions of the frame shift, the car can literally change its shape. For example, the hood opens up by parting like the Red Sea. Even more odd is the covers of the headlights open like eyelids. There is a video after the jump if you want to see this for yourself, and I highly recommend you do.

The video explains that GINA is an attempted acronym for something like Geometry withINfinite Adaptations. So the abbreviation may not be perfect, but I think the concept is needed. Replacing the metal of a car frame with durable cloth sounds a lot cheaper than metal that constantly gets dented, rusted, and always in need of replacement.

The GINA can be found in the BMW Museum in Munich Germany. There is no word if this technology will hit the market anytime soon.

Cops can finally track, rather than chase bad guys

We’ve all been mesmerized by the local news coverage of some bad guy fleeing police in a high speed chase. And like watching car racing and hockey, we just wait for the inevitable crash that will end the pursuit. And soon enough, it comes and the foolish perp is taken away in cuffs while his car is a smoldering mass of twisted metal. But lately, police are catching all kinds of flack for pursuing these car chases at the endangerment of the local populace. Some have even taken to letting the guy go, rather than risk a crash and human lives which result in the inevitable bevy of lawsuits. But now, they can track the bad guy, rather than chase him, with a new projectile GPS transceiver which will allow the helicopter and units monitoring to simply hang back and wait for the perp to get where he’s going.

STARCHASE is the name of the device and it fits on the bumper of any current police cruiser. Like a small air powered canon, the Starchase will launch a small dart that has a GPS receiver built in which broadcasts the car’s location in real time. This enables police to either hang back and follow the perp at a safe distance or, triangulate his route and location and send units to head him off at the pass. Either way, this is the promise of new technology. Creating gadgets which, in their James Bond fashion, protect the good guys and catch the bad guys.
Now that’s a cool gadget.

Ego Street Scoota

You know how it is these days – the insane price of oil has driven virtually everything up, save for our salaries. Heck, it used to be dirt cheap filling up cars with gas, and right now at $4 a gallon in most places across the US, motorists are complaining about gas stations being virtual highway robbers as they stop short of taking your firstborn in exchange for a full tank of gas. What are some of the alternatives? A bicycle would be too slow to commute across longer distances, while a motorcycle isn’t environmentally friendly and sips some gas as well. There is always the ego street scoota to save the day – an electric scooter that costs no more than a thousand quid. Can’t believe your ears (and eyes)? Read on then.

With the Ego Street Scoota, you will be able to zip around the city on bus lanes, doing away with congestion charges while cutting queues to get to your destination as fast as possible. Best of all is, there is no need to purchase any gas to let this baby carry you everywhere you want to go, and you get to save a handsome amount on road tax as well. It is powered by an onboard battery that can be recharged via the mains, offering a top speed of 30 mph and a maximum traveling range of 40 miles. It will cost around $0.16 for a full charge, which averages out to approximately half a cent per mile. Sure, you won’t pick up any chicks at the club with this ride, and you are bound to get wet during the rainy season, but think of the long term (positive) impact on your finances and the environment!

Flo N’ Go Duramax Makes Stealing Gas Easy

Gas prices worldwide are out of control. In the U.S. prices recently peaked above $4/gallon. Relative to the rest of the world these prices are even considered wimpy in comparison. It’s no question that oil is on its way out as the major fuel commodity. It can only maintain its lasting power for so long. Eventually people are just going to get fed up with the prices, possibly even before the reserves run dry.

The Flo N’ Go Duramax is a portable 14 gallon gas can and fuel siphon which dispenses gas without any spillage or pesky flammable gas leaks. You can use the Flo N’ Go for much more than automobiles. Any gas powered gadget or vehicle can be filled or emptied with the Flo N’ Go Duramax’s siphoning system.

Made with a high-density polyethylene, the Flo N’ Go is both durable and rust-proof. Not to mention extremely unlikely to dent. With a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute you can fill up a 10 gallon gas tank in a matter of 5 minutes, which is pretty quick, even compared with gas stations.

While the Flo N’ Go isn’t made for shady purposes, we’re sure there are some frugal people out there who are already planning their great gas heist. Siphoning your neighbors gas tank has never been so easy. Just hope they use the same gas quality as you.

TurnSmart Mirror System

I sit in my 15 year old Suburu, glancing at my fellow drivers with envy. Look at all of them with their fancy rear view mirrors and their LED turn signals. Psh, like I would want something like that anyway. Don’t look at me that way! No need for smugness! I already know you have a nicer car, no need to rub it in that you’re better looking and most likely better in bed too.

But there’s a few tricks up my sleeve which might just make me feel a little better about my crap-mobile, even if it’s not nearly as chic as the real thing. The TurnSmart Mirror System adds a set of wide rear view mirrors onto your current mirrors. These mirrors also happen to feature solar panels which power a set of super bright LED’s which sync with your turn signal. Solar panels! How about that, Mr. Smug Driver?!

Sure, my car might not be up to par with your 2008 Escalade. Hell, it probably isn’t even up to par with a 1998 VW Beetle. But that doesn’t mean I have any less right to keep myself safe from you and your hulking automobile. Bigger cars just mean you have a bigger blind spot. So, I win.

If you’re like me and begrudgingly holding onto your vintage car, just because the few minor engine and exhaust problems aren’t enough to force you to yield the cash for a new ride, then you should pick up one of these too. No more smug looks. No more being left behind in the safety mix. $150 and you’re set for a few more days of driving power, at least.

Recycled Auto Part Chess Set

Think about how many junky cars you see people driving. Where do you think those cars will be in five years? Rotting away in some landfill no doubt. Old car parts can be used for so many productive purposes, rather than gathering dust on some abandoned lot.

Armando Ramirez proves that old cars are so much more than mobile junk piles. He creates these awesome recycled chess sets made from old automobile parts. Each chess set is custom made, each piece composed of the heavy and rustic remnants of an old car.

For example, the heads of the bishop pieces are made using NGK and AC DELCO spark plugs. Each set is completely unique, each with their own individual touches. A truly green process using recycled parts into a product for modern use. You just can’t beat that if you’re a chess player with a heart of green.

Each set will set you back $207.95 which really isn’t bad as far as custom made products go. But what you get in return is a true piece of art. A recycled game with a true rustic pseudo-steampunk feel. We imagine it’s products like this that provide inspiration to all of you green industrial plotters out there.

Vauxhall Motors Speed Limit Detector

A few months ago, I got pulled over for speeding on the highway. The officer told me that the speed limit was 45 mph, but I could have sworn it was 55, maybe even 65. Of course, the officer was not about to let me go back and check, and as it turned out, I think I had just missed the 45 mph speed limit sign.

Needless to say, I settled the ticket out of court, but it would have been nice to have some device on my dashboard that tells me what the speed limit is. Granted, that might condemn me on my next ticket. It would be hard to convince an officer that I didn’t know what the speed limit was when it’s glowing on my dashboard. However, if that number is less than what the officer says the speed limit is, I would be so vindicated!

That is exactly what Vauxhall Motors, a British subsidiary of General Motors, has done. This speed limit detector can take 30 pictures a second, and then analyze these pictures with image recognition software. Once it detects the speed limit on the signs, it posts the correct number on the dashboard.

The Vauxhall speed limit detector is planned to appear on the upcoming Insignia sedan, and could be available on 2010 models of United States cars.

Vancake Camper: A Really, Really Lowrider

If there was a limbo competition for cars there is now no question on who the winner would be. How low can the Vancake go? Try this out for size. This mini-Volkswagen bus is only 3-feet and 1-inch tall. Meaning for the average 6 foot man, this automobile only reaches to around the waist area.

Officially known as the Camper, but affectionately titled “Vancake”, this super low-rider is the world’s lowest Volkswagen bus. Call us crazy, but we don’t see this niche having a super stringent competition at this point. And to add even more to its wonderful allure, there’s a little back story to go along with its awesomeness.

Designers Just Kampers and Andy Saunders created the Vancake in only three days! Working away during the Bug Jam festival at the UK’s Santa Pod Raceway from June 18 to June 20, the team managed to remove the Volkswagen’s roof, equip an electric sunroof, and completely redo the car’s previous paint job to give the Vancake a more scaled feel.

The Vancake is not only totally snack sized, but is also totally street legal. The only thing we’d worry about is getting rear-ended by fellow drivers who are fascinated by our tiny car. For only three days of work, we’d say it’s a hell of an accomplishment.

Bricycle: Saving the Planet, one driver at a time

Every day, millions of people take to the roads as solitary drivers in their automobiles. This seems to be a complete waste of energy as most cars have room for at least three other passengers. Assuming the solitary driver can’t find an convenient carpool, why not switch to a speedy, energy-efficient vehicle that can hold just one driver?

This is the concept behind the Bricycle, a three-wheeled wonder designed by someone named Brian. Yes, he named it after himself, but see the name as a descriptor, and not as a reflection of ego. After all, this isn’t any normal bicycle or tricycle, but a motorized trike that is like no other.

This Bricycle is made of plywood, epoxy, and fiberglass cloth. It is powered by a 48-volt motor at the front, and is capable of 21 speeds.

Brian has stated that his Bricycle prototype is nearing completion, and I certainly see a lot of potential. I have seen other conceptual one-manned vehicles that can turn an ordinary road into a two-way highway since they take up half the space. Considering the amount of cars on the road, vehicles like the Bricycle might be the only way to reduce traffic.

Not only that, the Bricycle is completely electrical, so we can reduce our dependence on oil. Anything that can help out with fighting overpopulation and pollution can only be a good thing.

Nissan’s ECO Pedal pushes back during acceleration

Despite having the best of intentions to alter your driving habits in order to save on gas, sometimes it’s difficult to change your ways. Well Nissan has designed a gas pedal called the ECO Pedal to help you with your lead foot. When it senses you’re accelerating too quickly, it will begin pushing back. Which if you prefer a car that has the ability to get up and go, it’s going to become a bit obnoxious. They do claim the it will increase fuel efficiency by 5 to 10 percent. Which would definitely cut down on all that money you’ve been forking out for gas.

On the plus side it does have an off switch for the gas pedal. Nissan states that the pedal will be installed in models in the next year. Although I can say without a shadow of a doubt this gadget would drive me insane, I can see it being quite useful for others. Hopefully they just put it in cars that are geared towards fuel efficiency anyway. That or make it so that it was only slipped into a few of the cars. Unfortunately, I’m sure that this pedal would annoy more people than it would actually help.

Fuel Checker Prevents Terrifying Mistake

I’m not certain if this is one of the most useful or useless devices that I have ever reported on. This next device is for those who try to refuel their car with the wrong type of fuel. So if you’ve ever put diesel instead of unleaded in your car by mistake, perhaps this could prevent you from ruining your engine all over again.

Yes, I have never done that either, but I guess it couldn’t hurt to have a little preventative measure like this. All that is required is to install the gadget on the inside of your fuel flap, and go ahead and hold the fuel nozzle up every time you fill ‘er up. If you put the wrong type of fuel in, a little light will go off.

I don’t know about you, but most of the gas stations have the diesel pump separate from the regular, premium, or unleaded choices. Also, isn’t the nozzle of the diesel pump slightly larger than that of regular gas tanks?

I see one good use for this. Parents can put it on their gas tanks so when their kids fill the car up for the first time, there will be a warning in case the wrong gas is used.

Belkin TuneCast Auto Actually Compatible with iPhone 3G

For those of you who have purchased that new 3G iPhone, you may have discovered that some of the original iPhone and iPod accessories are not compatible with it. You might be frustrated at having to buy new 3G accessories, but at least the lines will be shorter when you go back to the Mac store.

Fortunately, Belkin has come to the rescue with the TuneCast Auto for the iPhone and iPod, which, as it happens, is completely compatible for the iPhone 3G. The TuneCast Auto works by attaching it to the line out for car stereo inputs or a cassette adapter.

It allows the user to transmit audio wirelessly on multiple FM stations from 88.1 to 107.9 MHz. So for those of you who enjoy music off of the iPod and iPhone, but don’t have a docking platform on their car stereo, this product is for you.

The Belkin TuneCast Auto is also able to cut the through normal static with its ClearScan feature that finds the best FM frequency available. Other features of the TuneCast Auto include a PRO setting which optimizes audio and boosts volume. It also has two programmable preset buttons, a high-contrast backlit display, and an in-car charger.

In Car Charger has USB ports to spare

Considering that many of our mobile electronics have USB ports for charging, it is not always convenient to find a spare USB port, especially when traveling on the road.

I suppose this is why the In car charger has USB ports, four of them actually. This In car charger plugs right into the cigarette lighter, and now the user can plug in an iPod, mobile phone, digital camera, GPS device, or any other USB device that he or she needs on the open road.

The charger works within a range of 12-24 volts, and a fuse that can be changed out. I suppose this is very useful for people constantly on the road, like truckers, but only if the user doesn’t smoke.

If you’re confused by that last sentence, just try to imagine lighting a cigarette when you’ve got four cords plugged in to this In car charger. If you’re not too careful, you’ll burn a USB wire when you put the lighter back in the socket.

Iqua VisorSUN

The iqua Visor Sun is a bluetooth handsfree speaker for the car that clips on to the visor and uses solar power to recharge, meaning you’re always connected. How refreshingly sensible.

Coleman Solar Battery Charger

Having experienced a dead battery in your vehicle is surely one of life’s moments where nearly all drivers know. The Coleman Solar battery Charger will help prevent that from happening, sending a “trickle” charge to the battery as long as it feeds on sunlight. Just make sure you place it in a strategic spot.

Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to keep your car’s 12V battery charged. Place this solar-powered charger on the dash or window for best sun exposure, then plug it into the car’s cigarette lighter. It sends a “trickle” charge to the battery, preventing it from being drained by the clock, radio memory or an alarm which uses power even when the ignition is off. Great for use with ATVs, snow vehicles and vintage cars that are used infrequently. Suction cups hold it on the windshield or garage window. 10-ft. power cable. Includes a battery clamp adapter that lets you connect it directly to a battery, if desired.

It will cost you $29.95 to bring home the Coleman Solar Battery Charger. Perfect for folks with fleets of vintage cars, while we poor plebeians who find it difficult enough to maintain a single car aren’t to likely to run into a dead battery situation from NOT using our vehicle often enough.

The Big Hug Adhesive Cell Phone Holder

Cars, especially older ones, don’t always have a convenient spot to put your cell phone and I’ve never been a fan of leaving it in my pocket while driving. Yes, you could slip it into your cupholder, but it’s not quite in the line of sight and that means your drink can’t go there. Which could be catastrophic for those in dire need of caffeine and are unwilling to hold it between their legs. Well with this little cell phone holder your phone will always be at the ideal spot for you.

It has adhesive backing so you can stick it to any random surface you like. It will work with some slim cell phones, and since it is made of soft material you don’t have to worry about it scratching up your phone. Unfortunately, since this is being sold over the internet you’ll just have to buy it and pray it happens to work with your phone. It does say that it will not work with the wider phones like the iPhone. It is sold with those giant purple hands, sadly, there are no other color options available

When will that light turn green? Audi’s Travolution lets you know.

Nobody likes a waiting at a long red light, and sometimes it would be good to know exactly how long a driver has to wait. Fortunately, Audi is working on a program called Travolution, which allows a driver to know how long that infernal light will stay red.

This device will come in handy for when you are going fast toward a red light. The Travolution will tell you if that red light will suddenly turn green in a few seconds, so you can keep going.

Not only can this Travolution revolutionize travel and save time, but it can also save the earth as well. Apparently, the idle time that you spend at an intersection waiting for a light can lead to increased CO2 emissions, which no one really wants for an environmentally friendly planet.

So far, this Travolution is still in the experimental phase right now, being tested out in the German town of Ingolstadt. The town had to install a network of “intelligent traffic lights” in order to implement this Travolution system, and I’m wondering how much work it would take to get all traffic lights in the world in line.

I’m not certain if this Travolution will improve things, because it will just increase the amount of times that drivers will want to get things done before the light turns green.

GPS navigation system that plays 8-bit games

Devices getting combined with other things and becoming one big complex gadget as opposed a bunch of different gadgets is for the most part a lot more convenient. Yet a GPS unit with a built-in gaming system I’m not sure is actually all that convenient. The 8-bit games might be fun, but you can’t really use the GPS and play a game at the same time. The best time to play the games are on long car trips, which is usually when you need your GPS the most. This isn’t the first device to try to combine the two, the PSP now is able to have GPS on it as well.

With both devices, as much as I love my PSP, I just think it’d end up becoming a headache. This is smarter than the GPS put into a PSP purely because the PSP Slim is impossible to use in the sunlight. Granted the newer PSPs have solved that issue. The GPS unit can support multiple languages, has a SD/MMC memory card slot, Bluetooth, a controller and a Samsung ARM9 400MHz processor. It has a 4.3” screen and of course has a LCD touch screen. So far there is no word on an actual price for this gadget.