Giles Kirkland is a mechanic who has always had a passion for cars, but now modern vehicles can offer functions that were beyond his imagination when he first developed his childhood fascination with the automobile.
Here Giles offers his expert insight into some of the cutting-edge technology that’s rapidly changing the face of modern motoring.
For many, a car is vital transport – allowing you to get to work, do school runs and load up the family for a summer holiday or two. But today’s man needs more from a car than just a means of getting from A to B.
So, what modern comforts are available? Technology has progressed since the car radio and there is certainly a lot to take advantage of. It’s not all about car tyres and roof racks - digital technology is definitely making its mark on the humble car. In fact, in a few years, it might just be common for the car to drive itself.
If you’re the one driving the car, there’s obviously a limit to what you can do to entertain yourself beyond listening to music, but what is available in terms of in-car audio has been greatly refined. Forget the car’s CD player. If you want to use music, simply bring a bluetooth device - such as an MP3 player - plug in and press play. Similar results can be gained via smart devices, too. Combine this with cloud technology, and your entire discography is at your disposal!
The modern man has many devices, most notably a smart phone. As cars become more and more digital, it’s not surprising to find more ways to synchronise your phone with your vehicle. With your smartphone alone, you can use GPS to get directions, use voice recognition services to call people and let people see how far away you are.
Today we even have the likes of Android Auto, which offers a range of digital features and functions. This is built into a lot of new cars but if yours isn’t compatible, you can retro-fit an older model with an aftermarket radio and an Android device. This will let you use GPS, take calls and more. It’s almost like a mini-office in the car - perfect for the man on the go!
All of this, of course, is just before the dawn of the ‘smart car’. It’s no secret Apple and Google are working on cars of their own. More seamless integration between devices is absolutely expected. With the growing “internet of things”, you’ll be able to check in at home while driving to and from the office, or even noticing what’s missing in the fridge on the way to the shops!
This is quite a broad term, but smartboxes can both read your vehicles performance and help avoid accidents - devices which do the latter are typically known as crash avoidance systems, or CAS and can apply the brakes when vehicles are too close.
A smartbox can monitor how you drive and deliver useful data. If you care about your car, this is invaluable. Is your car turning differently or getting a different response? The data from your smartbox could indicate you need a car tyre repair - something many human drivers overlook. Most men don’t have time to go the garage every time there is a possible fault, so having detailed data at your disposal is invaluable.
Furthermore, many insurance agencies actively reward drivers for having smart boxes or CAS, as they can adjust the policy to match the safety standards. (Think you’re a safe driver? Ask your insurance provider to lower your premiums as a result.)
Active Window Displays
If you want to keep your eyes on the road, wouldn’t it be great if you could get information directly on your windscreen? With advanced Heads Up Display units, you can. This uses lights to display information in front of you, so you can stay focused on driving. Other than its usefulness while driving, it certainly looks futuristic.
A key can be used by anybody, so why not use a biometric lock? Using your fingerprints as access doesn’t only just offer a safer way of securing your car - it also means you’re never going to get locked out. Keys can be copied, broken or left in the office, but your fingerprints and biometric data will always be with you.
Similarly, there has been talk about various health sensors to monitor your health while driving. Ford originally tried this approach with seats that could monitor heart rates, but has since moved to in-car wearables for the driver.
In short, there’s plenty of ways for you to customise your vehicle to suit your needs. Whether it’s driving to work, or turning the car into a child-friendly family vehicle, modern technology is enabling any vehicle to accomplish so much more.