Brett Solomon

Brett Solomon
The Spring Events of 12 Volt

After a cold wintertime of hopefully selling remote start, springtime is a welcome time to refocus on training and custom installation. New to the 12-volt world are two trade shows that are designed to fire up retailers to wire up those cars. The first trade show is held in conjunction with world-famous Spring Break Nationals.…

2015 CES, and the Connectivity Path to Autonomous Cars

The vehicle is very important, because—unlike some other smaller autonomous concepts—it brings the notion of luxury to a transportation appliance. This, in turn, will create huge opportunities for aftermarket personalization.

Google, Apple and our Cars

Car companies want to keep (or really hog) their customers all to themselves.  Additionally, they want to monitor the dashboard experience, and have typically frowned upon aftermarket devices and aftermarket software jumping into the pool.  Although Audi was one of the first car companies to join the Open Automotive Alliance at last year’s CES, German car manufacturers and politicians seem to be concerned that large technology companies like Google pose a potential threat the German auto industry. 

Knowledgefest Report

Knowledgesfest will be changing names next year. As for this year, there was a change of venue across town to the Hilton Anatole vs. the Gaylord Texan. I guess the only astonishing thing to mention about that is the amount of hotels in Texas that can swallow a show the size of Knowledgefest—complete with demo vehicles and soundboards—and still take on other conventions within the same venue.

Killing It with Profits

SoundFX is in an interesting market when it comes to mobile electronics. On the coast of Delaware, its largest nearby city would be
Ocean City, Md. Surrounded by miles of beach coast, SoundFX’s business centers around

Making that Buzzer Ring

In some retailers, it is a pressure-sensing device under the floor mat near the entrance.  For others, it is an electric beam that gets broken by passing legs.  Sophisticated retailers use cameras with integrated motion sensors.  But whatever the scenario, the ear-perking ‘ding-dong’ is the first step in making the cash register go cha-ching.  The problem 12-volt retailers face is driving store traffic, but our most effective weapon against Internet sales is an in-car demonstration.  So we need to make that buzzer buzz – consistently.

12-Volt Training: The Investment with Serious Return

OK, let’s just put it out there.  Aftermarket installation technicians have it harder than residential technicians when it comes to wiring.  Why?  Because the vehicles have become so much more challenging to work on. If we look at the dashboard, the simple dash cavity has become an aftermarket ‘perfect-fit’ nightmare.  We used to get excited if the dash cavity would be a double-DIN so we could add a double-DIN head unit, or perhaps a head unit and an EQ.  Now we get excited if we are lucky enough to get a standard double-DIN head unit.  The audio control buttons have become spread around the center console like contraband items around the Bieber household! 

12-Volt: Audi, Androids and You

At CES, Audi unveiled technology to connect to Google’s Android platform.  Although the integration may be the first for an OEM, the aftermarket still beats automakers to the punch when you look at products such as Pioneer’s AppRadio or Clarion’s Smart Access.  The buying demographic for replacement head units still skews way under 35 years old.  These are the same type of people who typically do not have the discretionary income to drop on a new Audi A7 (although it would be nice).  Our only hurdle is showing the possibilities in the aftermarket.  A 2008 Honda Accord owner does not need to throw out the baby with the bathwater to get top-tier integration. 

As Audi was one of the leading technology partners of CES, they also released unreal technology called Audi Piloted Driving.  Think of it as not the car that parks itself, but YOU get to instruct it, using your smartphone.  You step out of the car and use your smartphone to guide it into a tight space.  In the aftermarket, we are just a few radar sensors and actuators away to make this work in today’s vehicles.  But man, the implications are rough.  Remember when the installer just grounded the parking brake signal on the Viper remote start on the manual transmission car and it launched itself into the side of the bay?  Think about installing some of these technologies in the aftermarket and skipping a few sensors.