Calling new BMW 3 Series owners:
You may have noticed your new BMW didn't offer the vaunted BMW iPod connector that the company pioneered. The MOST bus in the new 3 Series isn't compatible with the old iPod interface, and BMW engineers apparently just haven't had time to reengineer it yet. Until they do, here's an option: Nav-TV
has announced an adapter that will bring your iPod up as part of iDrive. The good news: It arrives in late February or early March. The bad news: It may cost a lot more than your iPod. . . .
I'm telling you, WiMAX to the car could be hot. (You know, microwave-beamed broadband access.) Dallas/Fort Worth will be covered in WiMAX
this year; Philly and Anaheim, California, are launching WiMAX too. Broadband to the car could seriously reinvent in-car navigation, traffic reports, and radio. So where are the WiMAX cars? In France, apparently: Intel and a French boutique carmaker called Venturi are showing off a WiMAX-equipped car called the Fetish
. And in Japan: KDDI is testing a WiMAX streaming system to beam video into cars. Microsoft and Fiat are set to make a big splash at the Geneva Auto Show in a couple of weeks--maybe they'll be WiMAX'd too. . . .
Hey, gecko, check this out: Intelligent Mechatronic Systems is testing usage-based insurance (UBI)
in the United States this year. The idea is to use GPS tracking to determine how much you drive and bill you for your car insurance accordingly. The less you drive, the less you pay. You could also get a discount for not speeding, which can be calculated from GPS records. This iPAID system doesn't use live tracking; instead, a USB key in your car records all your driving, then you upload that data monthly to obtain your insurance bill. This idea turns insurance into an incremental cost, like gas, potentially encouraging people to drive less and reduce traffic and smog, as well as their bill. . . .
Odd: The just-released Lincoln Zephyr will be renamed for 2007 as the MKZ
(say "Mark Z"). Yes, it will get a bigger engine and a new grille, but it's basically the same car with a legal name change. We've seen Detroit slap an existing name on a completely different car but never vice versa. . . .
If spinners and neon light strips were at the top of your "I don't get it" list, make room for a new number one. RideTones is a little audio server
you install in your car and program to play a specific music clip or sound effect when you start the car, pop the trunk, open a window, and so on. Basically, it's ring tones for your car. Man, will that wear thin after about the third time. RideTones was in the goody bag that Grammy winners scored last week. Does that mean the guys from U2 got saddled with six of these things? Off to eBay to find out… . . .
PCs are great in cars--except that they don't want to be there. They don't have built-in AM/FM or satellite tuners,
Would you be interested in a usage-based insurance system?
Bluetooth hands-free kits, or GPS navigation ability; the Windows interface is all wrong; and they need a different power supply to run on 12 volts. And that's just for starters. So MP3Car.com and Intel just rolled out a box and software called the Enabler
(or StreetDeck, depending which press release you read), which is a car-oriented PC from the ground up. CNET editor Rafe Needleman takes us on a video tour. . . .
Somewhere between a sunroof and a convertible top lies the retractable cloth top--a rooftop tech that has been unloved for many years. Think Citroen 2CV
or Lancia Scorpion
to recall why: They look tweedy and just have
to leak. Flash forward to 2006, and ASC is trying to bring back the retractable cloth top, as demonstrated on this Hummer H3
. They're pitching it to OEMs as a factory option, not something you and your Sawzall would install over a weekend. . . .
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers a night-vision option that looks like someone finally got it right. Check out this video to see the system in action
--looks to me like you could actually drive IFR.