The Coolest 2020 12V Tech
CES 2020 featured more vehicle technology than ever. And the big news was tying together a stalwart electronics manufacturer to the automotive sector through the announcement of the Sony Vision-S concept car.
The vehicle was really a ‘vehicle’ to showcase safety technologies and the use of Sony’s CMOS image sensor camera systems. We know the venture was also helped along by Tier One automotive suppliers Bosch and Continental. Sony dubs its safety technology Safety Cocoon, which show the advancements in Sony imaging and sensing technologies. The technology combines Sony CMOS image sensors which achieve high sensitivity, high definition and high dynamic range with these other technologies: Solid-state LiDAR, which uses highly accurate distance measurement to gain a precise 3D grasp of real-life spaces; Sensor Fusion Technology, which merges the capabilities of sensors enabling early recognition in challenging conditions such as fog; and Time-of-Flight (ToF) in-cabin sensing solutions, that use distance measurement technology to detect and recognize people and objects from inside the car. This information is used to provide an optimized infotainment system with intuitive interfaces such as gesture control. This all helps to promote improved safety and comfort inside the vehicle. All tied together, the concept showed Sony wants to be a player in the autonomous vehicle race. We will probably see Sony’s exploration of merging camera, LiDAR, ultrasonic and radar sensors together to form a Safety Cocoon make its way to others developing autonomous vehicles.
For the mobile electronics retailer, there were plenty of new products at CES. AAMP, through its EchoMaster division, showed off the Intellihaul 2.0 Blind Spot Camera Towing System. Factory camera systems are getting better, and with their stitched overhead views it can make parking a breeze. But towing camera systems are often overlooked by the OEMs, and they can be especially helpful with large trailers such as those for horses or racecars. The EchoMaster system was designed to add visibility into those blind spots while towing in new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. The system features proprietary, factory-matched side mirror pods with built-in HD blind spot elimination cameras, activated by turn signals to display blind spots onto the factory radio. The integration module that is used to connect the safety cameras to the factory head unit, is a plug-and-play affair. This makes the installation seamless without affecting the audio system and without voiding the factory vehicle warranty on a brand-new vehicle. Utilizing six screen modes, smart technology enables camera activation based on driver behavior, using left and right turn signals, and placing the truck in reverse.
AAMP also showed off the new Stinger HEIGH10 10-inch capacitive touchscreen that can be used in any vehicle, but leveraging the other AAMP companies designs to have it seamlessly integrate into popular vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler. According to Stinger, the display and main tuner box offer a modular design, bolstering installation flexibility in space-limited applications –– and in some cases, even where no installation dash kit is available. Don’t think you can fit a 10-inch screen in your application? The HEIGH10 works with most standard Double-DIN installation kits, or techs can use a specialty kit like the upcoming PAC Wrangler JL kit that will work with the 10-inch HEIGH10 massive screen for an impressive Jeep install. For those looking for a single-DIN solution, the sold-separately SE-SDIN iso-mount allows for a variety of vehicle fitments that wouldn’t be possible with a full-featured multimedia system. The HEIGH10 offers a wide variety of media inputs and integration options, giving the customer total control of music, navigation, and other media easily and safely, while on the move. In addition, the HEIGH10 is feature-packed with Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM-Ready (SiriusXM Connect SXV300 satellite radio tuner required; sold separately), Android Auto, AM/FM radio, two USB rear inputs w/1.5-amp output, Hands-free Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP with aptX (for hands-free calling and music streaming), and optional iGO navigation (sold separately). Also included is an onboard steering-wheel control interface that makes integrating the HEIGH10 and retaining factory functions easy. To please audiophiles, there is a variable digital fiber optic Toslink output. A built-in 15-band graphic equalizer, crossover, and time correction allows installation techs to dial-in sound quality. The HEIGH10 has a built-in amplifier but six channels for 4-volt preamp outputs will be the preferred method of getting great sound from your customer’s ride. The HEIGH10 also features four independent camera inputs, so that drivers can feel confident that their vehicles and their cargo or trailer can be monitored. The camera-mode display allows drivers to select up to four separate cameras to ensure that they can see what’s in their blind spots for added safety on the highway. In addition, the sound from the optional RV camera microphone can be fed into the system, allowing the driver to hear as well as see what’s going on.
As newer vehicles are coming with larger and larger infotainment displays, the aftermarket is countering with large displays. For the money, Dual Electronics showed off the DMCPA11BT. The unit features an extra-large 10.1-inch capacitive LCD that is tilt-adjustable during installation, three pair of 4-volt preamp outputs (Front, Rear, Sub), two USB inputs (front 1A, rear 1.5A), and a front-panel microSD input. The unit is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. While parked, the large front panel is detachable for security. There are steering wheel controls built in that are compatible with most SWC interfaces. A dedicated push-to-talk button brings up access to a voice assistant on a connected smartphone. The unit will be at $379.99.
Pioneer was also there with large display units as part of its new NEX in-dash head unit lineup. The feature of note is an Alexa icon right on the screen. According to Pioneer, with Alexa integration, drivers can ask to play music, hear the news, check the weather, and control smart home devices. Ted Cardenas, VP of marketing for Pioneer, notes, “The addition of Amazon Alexa Built-in to our NEX in-dash receivers allows us to continue to be on the forefront of delivering seamless connectivity between the vehicle and the consumer’s smart lifestyle. Amazon Alexa allows us to provide a more engaging connected experience, bringing next-level infotainment options to the aftermarket.” The NEX lineup is available in three product configurations and three screen sizes. All five models also feature both wired and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The flagships are the DMH-WT8600NEX (10.1-inch) / DMH-WT7600NEX (9-inch) receivers. These models feature an all-new floating display configuration, allowing an extraordinarily large display to be installed using a universal single-DIN chassis. The floating screen offers horizontal, vertical and tilt adjustability to ensure the best fit and usability in the vehicle’s dash. The DMH-WT8600NEX has a suggested price of $1,200, and the DMH-WT7600NEX has a suggested price of $1,000.
As if to one-up everyone else in the battle of the large-format screens, Alpine released the largest infotainment head unit of them all with its floating HALO 11-inch hovering touchscreen that features 49 percent more surface area than the original 9-inch Halo unit. Mike Anderson, VP and GM of Alpine, notes, “The impact that the Alpine Halo9 has had in the industry cannot be understated. The introduction of the new 11-inch display solidifies Alpine as an industry leader with the biggest display on the market.” The iLX-F411 has the same features as its predecessor, the iLX-F259, including a customizable user interface, with three home screens and 22 available widgets that can be customized through swipe and drag-and-drop motions. Users can personalize the background using their own photos or several pre-loaded patterns. Although not ready out of the gate, customers will be able to retain select factory features like vehicle information and parking assist display on compatible vehicles with the iDataLink Maestro module that will be sold separately. The companies say the software update for the iLX-F411 will be available to take advantage of the iDataLink Maestro system in the fall. It sure will be fun for customers to see parking assist in widescreen format for those who have trouble parking! The iLX-F411 will ship in June for $1,200.
AudioControl was at CES to promote its ACX series amplifiers. They were engineered to deliver sound quality and durability from a compact chassis. Specifically, they were designed for the red-hot marine, motorcycle, motorsport, and UTV applications. According the AudioControl, the ACX amplifiers were developed to bring premium sound quality to vehicles that could potentially expose electronics to moisture and other contaminants. ACX amplifiers have achieved an IP6 rating against water intrusion. Chris Bennett, national sales manager of AudioControl, notes, “Our 12-volt specialists worldwide have been requesting a best-in-class amplifier durable enough to withstand the challenges of marine and motorsports applications. The ACX Series addresses these demands while delivering superior sound quality, all from a compact form factor that is easy to install.” The two models include a monoblock amp that delivers 300 watts at 2 ohms, and a four-channel amplifier that delivers 4x50 watts at 4 ohms. The ACX-300.1 features AudioControl’s patented AccuBASS circuitry along with a low-pass/bypass 12dB/octave Linkwitz-Riley crossover. The ACX-300.4 delivers a hi-pass/bypass Linkwitz-Riley crossover. Both models utilize AudioControl’s GTO signal sensing circuitry to make installations easy on vehicles where it is difficult for the installer to run a turn-on lead back to the amp. The ACX-300.1 has a MAP price of $279. The ACX-300.4 has a MAP price of $329.
Ah… progress. It has been 25 years since some unknown piece of garbage dented my beloved Camaro in the high-school parking lot. Back then, I did have the top-of-the-line Viper security system. But the technology for video recording was only a dream. Enter the Directed SmartView dash camera. The unit features motion sensors, high-resolution cameras, and sharable video. According to James Turner, senior VP of Remote Start and Security at Directed, “SmartView sets the bar for in-vehicle dash cameras by adding smart features and DS4 connectivity to a fully featured HD camera. It’s another great addition to our growing DS4 infrastructure, but can also be used as a standalone unit. However, the real power of SmartView is unleashed when connected to a DS4 security system. Consumers can immediately check out the interior and surroundings of their vehicle when they receive a security notification. It’s vehicle security for 2020 and beyond. Viper SmartView is perfect for both individuals and families.” The unit records when the car is in motion and will also record any security event. With the Live Look function, obsessive vehicle owners can take a look inside their vehicle at any time. It is kind of like bringing the functionality of a Ring doorbell to your ride. CEO Bob Struble is excited about the new technology. He notes, “The Viper SmartView provides next-generation features and connectivity, and we expect it to be a big hit with both our dealers as well as consumers.”
SiriusXM in combination with VOXX showed off the SiriusXM Tour. The unit delivers content via both satellite and streaming, seamlessly switching between both. According to SiriusXM, this gives listeners access to more than 300 live SiriusXM channels plus content from SiriusXM's On Demand library, which offers more than 10,000 hours of archived shows, exclusive interviews and audio documentaries. SiriusXM Tour will also feature SiriusXM’s Personalized Stations Powered by Pandora, which employ Pandora’s listener personalization technology and draw from SiriusXM's music library to allow subscribers to create their unique channels based on favorite artists. Joe Verbrugge, Sirius XM’s Division president of Connected Vehicles, notes, “SiriusXM with 360L is revolutionizing the way people listen to audio in the car, and with the all-new SiriusXM Tour plug and play radio new and existing subscribers will have the freedom to experience its benefits in the car and at home on an intuitive and user-friendly portable radio.” The unit can be tuned via voice commands, and offer listening suggestions based on user history. The unit is slated to ship in May.