Steven travels for business and he wants to be able to automatically track his mileage. Leo suggests the Automatic. It plugs into the car's OBD2 port and it keeps track of mileage, will tell him what error codes mean, calculate gas mileage, and even estimate how much mileage he has left before he runs out of gas. Leo likes that it specifically tracks mileage for business vs. personal. It'll even let him know where his car is. There are also apps that will work with Automatic.
Clyde heard about the Jeep that got hacked and worries that it could happen to his car since he connects his phone to the car with USB. Leo says that simply connecting the phone to the car stereo isn't sufficient for this. The Jeep hack involved using the car's built-in 3G access. The real flaw is that the entertainment unit of the car and the computer running the car (braking, ignition, etc), are not physically separated. They are connected in many cars through the CamBus, or internal car network.
Mike says it's ironic that cars with computer touch screens make it impossible to keep our eyes off the screen when adjusting the radio. They want us to keep our eyes on the road, but they include touch screens and that's nuts. Leo agrees with Mike. Leo says that car companies, and even Apple and Google are looking for hands free solutions including voice operated directions, which work with a smartphone. But Leo doesn't know if that will make things better or worse.
Michael needs a camera to install in his car that has radar. Leo says that it's probably best to go to a car installer about that since it's more than just buying a camera. It's not only the camera, but the screen itself. So Leo advises letting a professional handle it. The chatroom says that Garmin makes one called the BC20 that wirelessly connects to GPS devices.
Gabriel is visually impaired, and would greatly benefit from this self-driving car that Google has been working on. Leo believes the technology has been perfected, and it works really well already. Gabriel says he has connections to people working on this, and that they should be ready to go on sale by 2017. Legislation needs to be written in California by 2015 for it.
Tom says that cellphone use while driving is bad and that we're overdue to have technology that can prevent accidents by applying breaks automatically (with infrared rangefinding technology). Leo says that autonomous vehicle technology exists now, and many companies use LIDAR to determine if a car is drifting, and adaptive cruise control to slow down if the car gets too close.
Mike hears that black boxes are now being put on cars. Can they be used to spy on the motorist? Leo says that it could, but there's cameras everywhere, so it's not like the government can't follow him if they really want to anyway. The boxes are more likely for diagnostic information to repair a car. That capability has been in there since the 80s. But they can also be used for accident investigation. The question though, is what are the rules?
David is buying a new Chevy Volt car and it has an optional navigational package. It's about $1,000 and has an upgraded sound system. Is it worth getting considering smartphones have GPS?
There are pro's and con's to both options. The advantage to having the navigation system built in is that it will have a nice, big screen, and Chevy says Siri integration is coming. The disadvantage to it is that it may be more difficult to use, and updating the maps is cumbersome. It will require updating them through a USB stick or a burned DVD. Those updates can also be very expensive.
Leo does The Tech Guy radio show from his Tech Guy Labs in Petaluma, California, where scenes from American Graffiti were shot. This weekend is American Graffiti Days, and there are classic cars everywhere! Leo makes the analogy between car enthusiasts and computer users. We're moving toward a time where needing to know the complicated inner workings of computers won't be necessary, and those who do understand those things will only be the enthusiasts. We're already seeing this with devices like the iPad becoming mainstream computing platforms.