New Car Tech Headed Our Way
Car Tech – Safety, Convenience and Cool
Many car buyers make purchasing decisions based on the technology fitted to their new ride.
In fact, nearly 60 percent of millennials and 40 percent of older adults would change brands if another car manufacturer offered the technology they wanted. And an average buyer would pay over $2,200 more to have the technology features they wanted in their car. The tech also has to be easy to use. If the technology wasn’t intuitive, more than 30 percent of buyers said they’d look at a completely different car.
Let’s take a look at technology for your car—both what’s currently available and what we’re likely to find in our cars in the coming years.
Having been widely available since the 1990s, keyless entry is a common feature on many of today’s cars. But there have been some updates.
In widespread use by a number of carmakers, these smart key systems have a range of names:
- Toyota calls it Smart Key
- Nissan has its Intelligent key system
- Keyless Go is available with Mercedes-Benz cars
- BMW uses Magic Key
Keyless entry systems can also be gesture-based. For instance, one keyless system enables the owner to open the trunk by making a kicking motion with their foot under the rear of the car—particularly handy if your arms are full of shopping bags.
Pros and Cons of Keyless Entry
Why you’ll like it. Keyless entry and start means easy access and convenience. You won’t have to fumble around for your car keys to unlock the door or start your car anymore. Locking and unlocking your doors, as well as starting and turning off your cars, is now a seamless process.
The hardest part to get used to. It may take some time to get used to being able to get in your car without physically using a key. Or it could take time to adjust to using gestures to open the trunk. Once you’re acclimated, you won’t want to go back to having to use a physical key.
- Blind Spot Monitoring. This feature uses sensors on the car to help alert the driver if there is another car in the blind spot. If there is, a light or icon glows in the side mirror. In some models, the car may beep at the driver if they put on their turn signal and try to switch lanes while there is someone in their blind spot.
- Lane Keep Assist. The sensors on the car also used to help keep your car in the lane you’re driving in. When turned on, this feature will beep at the driver if the computer detects the car drifting out of the lane. It’s aimed to prevent distracted driving, as well as drowsy drivers.
- Automatic Braking. Using cameras on the front of the car, the computer system can also adapt to the speed of traffic while in cruise control. You can set the distance you want to have between you and the car in front of you. If the traffic ahead of you slows down, your car will adjust its speed on its own.
Pros and Cons of Safety Features
Why you’ll like it. These are tech features aimed at keeping you and your family safe. And best of all, more car manufacturers are making these features standard. Technology, like adaptive cruise control and automatic braking, can help reduce the chance you get into a rear-end collision – one of the most common accidents.
The hardest part to get used to. After driving for many years, it may be a jarring experience to feel a car accelerate and brake on its own. If it’s available on your car, it could take some time to get used to the semi-autonomous driving features of your car.
Everyone thinks they’re a safe driver – but how do you know if you are? Telematics uses technology, such as GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope, to monitor your driving behavior and analyzes it to determine how safe you’re being. Aside from learning about your driving habits, one of the biggest perks of telematics is that you could save on your car insurance premium if you demonstrate safe driving behaviors.
Pros and Cons of Telematics
Why you’ll like it. Simply put, it could save you money on your insurance policy. By letting a device or app monitor your driving habits and behavior, it gives an insurance company a better idea of how safe you are. Data showing you’re a safe driver can lead to policy discounts.
The hardest part to get used to. It could be a little nerve-wracking to have your driving monitored and analyzed. Telematics devices and apps collect data on whether you’re accelerating too quickly or braking too aggressively. You may be self-conscious until you forget the device or app is in your car.
There are two types of self-healing tires: run-flat tires and self-sealing tires.
Run-flat tires are self-supporting tires, which enable a car with punctured tires to continue at a lower speed (usually around 50mph) and for a limited distance (up to 50 miles). These tires are fitted to a number of automakers’ products (BMW, in particular, is a fan of the technology).
Self-sealing tires are still in development, though they are slowly entering the market. Most use the latest rubber technology to seal tread punctures of up to 5mm (0.2 inches) in diameter.
Michelin Selfseal, for example, uses a rubber compound that immediately plugs any holes in the tread. Other versions include Kumho Tire’s ‘K-Seal’ technology, Hankook Tire’s Sealguard and Pirelli’s Seal Inside.
What you’ll like. If your car’s low tire pressure light turns on or you suspect you have a flat, a run-flat or self-sealing tire can help give you some more time to safely pull over.
The Connected Car
Connectivity is a big buzzword in the automotive world at the moment, as manufacturers enable their vehicles to communicate with the outside world, becoming part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The ability to tether a smartphone to a car for hands-free use (i.e. Apple CarPlay or Android Auto) is just the start.
Companies such as BMW and Audi are now embedding SIM cards in their new cars to enable them to communicate with cloud servers. The SIM card—similar to that in your smartphone—offers immediate access to:
- Emergency and breakdown services
- A call center concierge who can book anything from a movie ticket to a hotel room
- Information on available parking spaces at your destination
- Sync with your calendar and email
- Access your contacts
- Stream an unlimited number of music tracks
- In the not-too-distant future, communicate with internet-enabled devices in your home (heating, lighting, even a stove)
Pros and Cons of the Connected Car
Why you’ll like it. Connected cars are meant to cut down on distracted driving and help you focus on the road. Plugging in your iPhone or Android phone to use CarPlay or Android Auto lets you use navigation, listen to your music, and access the respective digital assistant.
The hardest part to get used to. Asking a digital assistant in your car to do things can be a strange feeling at first – especially if you have to preface the command with a name. For example, “Hey Google,” “Alexa,” or “Hey Siri.”
Car Seat Technology
Most of us are now accustomed to electrical seats that allow us to adjust our position with a button or toggle.
But car seat technology is likely to evolve even more in the coming decades as autonomous, or self-driving, functions in cars will mean that we’ll no longer be bound by the need to sit upright and face forward.
Car Seat Technology that Monitors Your Health
Car seats will also play a part in improving the wellness of car occupants. As cars in the future become personal mobility vehicles, they may be able to monitor the health of their users—for example, we will find seats checking heart rates of those sitting in them, thanks to sensors embedded in the upholstery and seat belts. If the system, via the sensors, detects a rising pulse, it can either activate a relaxing massage program or alert the driver (or even emergency services via connectivity technology) of the danger.
So if you think that car tech is advanced now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Does your car have a new technology that isn’t listed in this article? Comment below and share with us!