Sam wants to talk about bringing digital voice assistants, like Amazon Echo, into your car. The idea here is to further the hands off experience to keep your hands on the wheel and not trying to do anything else. Sam says until recently, car computers have had weak processors, that caused having voice regognition a challenge. But now most cars have embedded voice assistants with limited vocabularies, and Amazon and Google are moving into the space, as is Apple with Apple CarPlay.
Sam is back from CES and he says that while more companies are featuring technology for cars, it is by no means a huge car show. That's the domain of the Detroit Auto Show. But Sam says that doesn't mean that there wasn't some cool car tech there. Alexa for Auto is becominng a thing. Sam says that cars are becoming far more computerized. Chips have been in cars since the 70s, but most cars now have about 75-100 separate computers built into them. We're starting to see a trend towards fewer, more powerful computers that will run your car for you.
Paul is getting a Windows CE error in his car. Leo says that Windows used to have a car edition and it sounds like the firmware has become corrupted. Hyundai wants $3,000 to fix the radio. Leo recommends going to another dealer. The trend is to just replace things, rather than try and fix them. Paul should check out iFixIt.com. They may have a fix or a solution, and they are big supporters of the right-to-repair movement.
Hank has a 2007 Nissan Infinity and it has Bluetooth support with its stereo, but it won't play music. Leo says that it may be that the audio connection is secondary to his mobile phone connection. There are two profiles with Bluetooth — one is the headset profile for talking on the phone, and the other is a higher quality A2DP profile for music. It could be that if the stereo doesn't support A2DP, it won't be able to connect for music. If there's an aux jack, he can try using a Bluetooth connector that way. Or he could even just use a wire.
Mike has an iPhone that he connects to his Subaru. It used to read his text messages, but now it doesn't work. Leo says it's likely been disabled while driving. It could be that the latest version of iOS doesn't support that function by design. The chatroom says that the car software may not have been updated. Leo's more of the mind that Apple disabled those features to guard against distracted driving.
Melissa is in the market for a new car and wants to sync her phone to it. Leo says that the trend for modern car design is that auto manufacturers are designing their entertainment systems around the phone, creating a portal, rather than a standard stereo system. That way, when she gets a newer phone, she'll get an upgrade of her system. Navigation from the phone also syncs into the car. Apple's CarPlay is available in over 100 different car models now.
The McLaren F1 automobile is a $10 million car, and there's only 100 in existence. It's the world's greatest supercar according to Jalopnik.com. It was the first proper production car to use a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, designed by Formula One legend Gordon Murray. It turns out, when they built these in 1998, that the state of the art computing was a DOS based Compaq laptop. Apparently, to this day, if a McLaren F1 needs service, it requires that same DOS based Compaq laptop. The problem is, they're running out of them.
Oculus Rift went on sale to the public this week. It's a virtual reality headset that has motion tracking in it along with a camera that can track your body's movements. It also has headphones with very good quality sound. For video, it means that you'll be able to look around and see things all around you. Instead of a camera man or director determining what you'll be seeing, you can look at anything you choose. Gaming is another big use case for these headsets. HTC has made a VR headset called the Vive in conjunction with Steam, a distributor of games for PC.
Elon Musk announced the Tesla Model 3 this past week, and they have already received 232,000 preorders. Customers had to put down $1,000 to preorder, and it may not be available for 2 or more years yet. This is the first Tesla at a relatively reasonable price of $35,000.
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Teddy has a used car he bought for his daughter, but it has a bunch of buttons for answering a mobile phone. He had it connected to an iPhone and now he's moved to an Android device. How can he adjust that? Leo says that it could be something he'd have to get from the auto manufacturer.