Bringing 12V to NYC
CE Week last month was a remarkable success all around, and 12-volt was no exception. With a partnership with the Mobile Electronics Association under Director Chris Cook, the 1,000-plus member group brought four different conference tracks to the event. The discussions were Personalization: Upgrading the Connected Car, Connectivity to Support Vehicle Automation, Understanding the Road to Zero Fatalities for the Autonomous Vehicle, and finally The Internet of Connected Vehicles. The general consensus around all of the conferences is new technologies can help save lives while making our lives better. Under this theme, there are plenty of opportunities for technology retailers to capitalize on emerging technologies. Let’s take a look at some of the winners represented at the CE Week.
There were two products designed to keep an eye on your vehicle – both while you are driving and when you are parked away from the car. Waylens was showing off its Secure 360 system. The unit provides a 360-degree view of what is happening around your vehicle, automatically storing video to the cloud for on-demand access. This way, customers can know what is happening around the car in real time from any location via a smartphone app. Evidence of accidents and theft can be documented. This allows the customer to protect their vehicle and driving record from hearsay and misinformation. The camera is attached to the windshield using a low-profile suction cup mount. However, power to the unit was designed to be wired by a mobile electronics specialist. We spoke with Everett Morss, director of Major Account Sales, who noted: “The retailer and specialty installer plays an important part in our ecosystem. We want retailers to be involved in the installation for power to the unit to keep the installation clean, tidy and problem-free.” Once it is hooked up, the unit automatically uploads data to the Waylens Cloud. This is enabled through the use of a three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope that detect even the slightest impact. The end user can choose from multiple viewing modes to see the full story. Event notifications are delivered right to the customer’s phone. Since there is a GPS locator in the camera system, the unit can track your customer’s vehicle in real time. Finally, an advanced power management system keeps parasitic draw very low but keeps the information flowing even if the vehicle is parked.
The other revolutionary product for keeping an eye on the vehicle was the Owl Cam. The product differs from the Waylens unit as it does not offer full 360-degree coverage, but still gives a very clear picture of what is happening inside, in front, and behind the car. We spoke with John Michael Hauer, senior marketing lead at Owl, who discussed the image quality and ability for the installation to be performed by the customer. “The Owl Cam can be installed, and more mounting options are going to be introduced. Our dual-HD camera technology allows users to zoom in on occurrences to get the facts.” The basic installation involves power being obtained from the OBD II port and running a wire into the unit by tucking it into the dashboard gap. When driving, dual-facing cameras protect Owl users, capturing what happens on the road, both inside and outside of the car. When parked, the unit monitors the vehicle with sensors that automatically alert the driver via the Owl Cam app. The app lets the customer see and catalog HD video evidence of everything from break-ins to mystery parking lot dings. The app is built to make sharing video easy in seconds. Additionally, voice recognition makes it simple to mark an area of a recording in case something crazy happens while driving. Andy Hodge, Owl Cam CEO and founder, noted: “Cars need video security – badly. No matter how you look at it, whether in terms of dollars or physical damage or emotional harm caused, the car is a place where a lot happens. We built the Owl Car Cam to help people feel safer with a device that’s super easy to install and use every day. And with the Owl Car Cam, you’ll catch all the amazing, fun life moments that happen in your car, too.” The Owl Car Cam is always connected to power and utilizes an LTE connection to access up to 24 hours of high-definition video and alerts. The camera automatically detects the important safety events that occur in and around the car and provides instant video clip reports. One important selling feature, especially for female customers, is the automatic break-in alert. If someone other than the customer gets into the car, Owl knows and alerts them. Owl pairs with their iPhone, and senses when they approach the car. If it’s someone else and they break in or get into the car, Owl’s LED floodlights will turn on to scare them off. Owl also sends the customer an alert via the Owl Cam App with video day or night, so they can watch a live feed of what’s going on. They can even use the built-in intercom to say, “Get out of my car dude!” Hauer added, “Owl also helps you capture and share the wonderful and unexpected moments that happen when you drive. Owl has voice-controlled video tagging. Tagging lets you name video clips that are sent straight to your phone. You just say the trigger word ‘OK, Presto,’ and describe what you saw. The named video clip is sent to your phone ready for you to share it to your favorite social networks right from the Owl Cam App.” The MSRP comes in at $299, with additional LTE service coming in at $10 a month.
Another cool 12-volt product shown off at CE week was RPlate’s interactive electronic license plate. The plate will be available this year in California, Florida, Arizona and Texas. SPL enthusiast and industry veteran Steve Meade of SMD Designs already has the plate installed on his Cadillac Escalade and loves it. Right now, you can renew your registration online. Feel like changing you license plate? Personalized plates are just a few clicks away. The background can be modified and you can support your favorite special interest. We spoke with Brandi Lites, legislation coordinator for RPlate. “Even if the vehicle battery goes dead,” she said, “our digital ink technology makes sure that the license plate is always legible. It just needs power to change. In fact, future versions of the product will allow for full-screen customization when parked. The actual plate will be legible in the upper right-hand corner while parked. It will be up to each state’s DMV to discuss what messages are permissible.”
Directed Electronics was at CE Week with its new line of powersports products. Geoff Weathesby, vice president of Connected Car, noted how Directed’s vehicle customers were also purchasing UTVs. Later this summer, Directed will be taking the connected car off-road with the introduction of the Viper Powersports GPS (VPS450). “The Viper Powersports GPS is a revolutionary product specifically designed for today’s popular powersports vehicles such as ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles. The Viper VPS450 provides consumers peace of mind knowing their powersports vehicles are safe and secure when they are away from the vehicle. If the vehicle is moved or tampered with, the customer will receive a notification to their phone and they will be able to locate the vehicle using GPS.” As the MSRP of these ‘toys’ start to grow in addition to the amount of aftermarket equipment installed, protecting them only makes sense.
VOXX was displaying their LOOK-IT rearview camera system. It is a takeoff of the Pearl unit that never really made it to market. It combines wireless smartphone technology with a high-tech built-in license plate frame camera. This all-in-one backup camera and monitor solution connects wirelessly to a smartphone and turns any iPhone or Android device into the display. This allows drivers to view the footage directly on their smartphone. With safety and convenience in mind, the system will help improve backup safety, reduce blind sports and assist in changing the way drivers park their vehicles. We are especially excited about this product for vehicles that did not come with infotainment screens. It can truly help save property damage, or more importantly, a life.
Pioneer was at CE Week as well. One of their reps had their flagship AVIC-W8400NEX connected to his smartphone through Android Auto. He was able to control elements of his house directly through the head unit. This technology makes total sense for garage doors and electronic gates. Vice President Ted Cardenas noted, “The possibilities of linking the smart home to the smart car are endless.” Which leads to endless opportunities for retailers.