BUY LANEFX AND SAVE
Keeping an Eye on Blind Spots
Many accidents occur when a driver tries to change lanes on a highway without being aware that a vehicle is in his "blind spot." For 2007, Audi and Volvo are addressing
this dilemma with two systems that can detect vehicles that a driver might not see on either side of his car. Both systems use LED displays near each outside rearview mirror to warn a driver that
he shouldn't attempt a lane change because a vehicle is in or is rapidly approaching a car's blind spot. Audi's Side Assist system, which made its debut in the new 2007 Q7 SUV, uses radar to detect
other vehicles. Volvo's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) available on the new S80 sedan due in early 2007, uses cameras.
Device Reads Email Messages to Drivers
Tech Digest reports on a new gadget and speech
recognition system called iLane that provides drivers with a hands-free way of listening to email messages. iLane can also handle phone calls, calendar requests
and SMS messages. The device plugs into the cigarette lighter.
iLane is a small device that interacts directly with existing Bluetooth-enabled handheld devices, allowing drivers to fully access their email in transit. iLane notifies
the driver of incoming emails and other important information by reading a brief summary in a "natural sounding voice". The driver can then listen to the entire email message; forward
or compose a response using verbal instructions. Phone calls, SMS messages, and a number of email attachment types can also be managed. In addition, filters can also be set to priorities mail,
so you don't get hassled with that latest sales pitch from an online store.
It's probably still distracting in the same way a child talking in the backseat or the radio can be distracting...but at least it can be used without the driver taking their eyes of the road or their
hands off the wheel. Gizmodo has more details about iLane. Gizmodo says it supports the major Western languages
and it can read your emails in a male or female voice. Gizmodo also warns that it might be unwise to have children in the care when those raunchy spam message are read aloud by iLane.
Are All Blind Spot Mirrors the Same?
The areas most commonly referred to as blind spots are the rear quarter blind spots, areas towards the rear of the vehicle on both sides. Vehicles in the adjacent lanes of the road may fall into
these blind spots, and a driver may be unable to see them using only the car's mirrors.
Other areas that are sometimes called blind spots are those that are too low to see behind and in front of a vehicle. Also, in cases where side vision is hindered, areas to the left or right can
become blind spots as well.
Beware of Setting Your Mirrors "Wide"
Mirror alignment is often done incorrectly by drivers. There is a tendency to want to provide context for the side mirror view by having the rear of the driver's own vehicle in the mirror frame.
When improperly aligned the side view mirrors widen the perspective offered by rear view mirror, but still not providing full coverage of the blind spot areas around SUV's, light trucks, minivans
and even commercial vans.
Even with a head-turn, the driver should continue to look forward, in the direction the car is traveling. This is accomplished by using the correct blind spot mirrors or blind
spot detection system. Exaggerated head-turns, where the driver actually faces backward for a moment to check the blind spot, are dangerous because the vehicle in front
may come to a sudden stop just at that instant resulting in a rear-end collision.
Gadget Gifts: The Must-Have Gadgets of 2006 Holida Season
Looking for great tech gear? Check out these magnificent seven.
Santa isn't the only one who's been making a list and checking it twice. Over the last year hundreds of gizmos have passed through Chez Freak, but only a handful inspire sincere gadget lust.
These devices all share certain traits: They serve a real need (read: not yet another iPod accessory). They're innovative. Most important, they're simple to use. Plug them in, turn them on, and
they work. The way it should be.
iRobot Dirt Dog
Meet man's new best friend. iRobot's Dirt Dog is a sweeper designed for use in basements and garages. Just push the "Clean" button
and stand back. It scuttles about picking up wood shavings, loose screws, and other weekend workshop detritus. The $130 price is worth howling about, too.
With the Wi-Fi-enabled MusicGremlin, you can download songs from any hotspot and then legally swap them with your buddies online.
Sure, navigating through songs could be easier, and $300 (plus $15 a month for the music service) is pricey for a device with only 8GB of storage. But being able to download virtually any song,
anytime, anywhere, is wicked cool.
Pure Digital Point and Shoot Camcorder
This pocket-size digital videocam lets you capture 30 minutes of decent-looking video in its 512MB of flash memory and then transfer the clips
to your PC via a clever USB "arm" that swings out from the base of the unit. The camera's built-in software allows you to manage videos, e-mail downsized clips to friends, or share
your masterpieces on Google Video with just a few clicks. The features are bare-bones--only 2X zoom, 640-by-480 clips, and minimal playback options on a 1.5-inch LCD--but then again, so is the
PowerSquid Surge3000 Calimari
Even I find it odd how excited I am about this $80 power strip. Yes, it really looks like a squid: Six tentaclelike plugs extend
to handle power bricks without blocking other sockets, and its surge protection (up to 3240 joules) keeps your pricey gear from getting fried. Two plugs even light up so you can find them in
the dark. It's ideal for geeks with too many gadgets and nowhere to plug them.
This device redefines the electronic book. Sony's glare-free screen and E Ink technology are amazing, the unit is push-button easy to use, and its 7-by-5-inch size strikes the perfect
compromise between a PDA and a laptop. The $350 Reader can hold around 80 books in its 64MB of memory, and more when you add a Sony Memory
Stick or an SD Card. Sony launched with about 10,000 titles in its proprietary e-book format (the unit also reads text, Acrobat, and Word files). Pricing and availability of titles will vary,
but the gizmo itself is terrific. (For details, see our review.)
One wire--that's all the Zvox 325 ($349) needs to produce booming audio from your TV, MP3 player, or DVD machine. Just plug in
this VCR-size speaker unit and connect it to the device's headphone jack. Two knobs let you control volume and switch from stereo to surprisingly good surround sound. It's simplicity itself.
I got this robotics kit for my 7-year-old daughter, but soon I was fighting her for it. PicoCricket ($250) combines Lego pieces
and fuzzy pipe cleaners with sophisticated light, motion, and sound sensors. Kids build their own toys and then program them to respond to stimuli by dragging and dropping "PicoBlocks"--brightly
colored shapes that represent different chunks of object-oriented code. So, for example, you can build a flower that plays music when the sun rises, or a birthday cake that lights up when you
touch it. You'll need about 30 minutes with Pico's quick-start guide to master the basics, but far longer before you're willing to let your kids have at it.
A Merry Geekmas to all, and to all a good night.
LaneFX - Blind Spots Revealed
A lot of new cars include detection systems that will alert the driver when a vehicle (or some other large object) is sitting in their blind spot. Drivaware is now selling
a third-party solution that does more than just alert the driver when something is in their blind spot, it shows them.
When the turn signals are activated the LaneFX system will automatically move the corresponding side mirror outwards showing the driver what might be hiding in the vehicle’s blind
spot. The LaneFX system can also include the ParkFX feature which will automatically tilt both side mirrors down while the vehicle is being driven in reverse.
The Drivaware LaneFX system can be installed on any car with power side mirrors and is available in a Basic Edition for $197, a Highway Edition for $242 and a Commuter Edition for $296
depending on what features you may need.
Ditch Your Stick-on Convex Blind Spot Mirrors Today
Stop Distorting Your Rearview and Compromising Your Side Mirror Vieweing Space
Drivaware has come up with something useful: the LaneFX , a controller that connects
your power mirrors to your turn signals, so that when you signal (you do signal before you turn, right?), your mirrors swivel outward to show your blind spot. Hey, if this keeps just one cyclist
out of the hospital, I'm happy.
Generally speaking, larger vehicles have larger rear blind spots. For example, the blind spot behind a typical sedan could only hide a small animal, while
the blind spot of an SUV can hide small children, resulting in as many as 50 children being killed by reversing SUVs each year.
The blind spot behind tractor trailers can contain entire vehicles, which is one reason many trucks carry warnings not to follow too
close, such as "if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you." This is partly because the driver's position is higher in a tractor-trailer.
Larger vehicles also have much larger front and side blind spots. Tractor-trailers have not only large rear quarter blind spots, but also a large blind spot directly to their left and to their
There are a number of products available to consumers to deal with the blind spot problem. Convex mirrors, often called "spot mirrors" can bring blind spots into view, but their optical
properties impart a great deal of distortion so as to make it difficult to judge distances. Newer technologies using aspheric mirrors allows the blind spots to be virtually eliminated
while minimizing distortion.