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Wish upon a car
February 17, 2014 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Car enthusiasts, what kind of after-market electronic gadget do you wish you could buy for your car/truck that doesn't currently exist (at least at an affordable price)?

I'm talking about wired or wireless devices that can provide one or more functions such as security enhancements, diagnostics information, performance enhancements, tracking, navigation, controlling things like windows and locks, passive video to record accidents, or anything else you would find very useful.

What do you wish you could buy right now (specifically electronics/computer/network/communication-related rather than mechanical) that you can't? What is it and what exactly would you want it to be able to do? I'm trying to identify gaps in the market for which technology could be developed so that I can develop those applications/products based on some existing core technology I have, and what better way to do that than to ask the smart and engaged members of the MeFi community.
posted by Dansaman to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have an OBD diagnostic thing that will connect to an app on my phone and show me all sorts of cool info like engive revs, coolant temperature, etc. It's a bit fiddly though - a device I could plug in and leave running and then plug into my computer to get the logs from would be cool. Especially if it was discreet and could be left in the vehicle without being visible.
posted by Solomon at 2:47 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I would like the Android OS in the dash to control everything. Phone, navigation, ANY internet radio station (Slacker Radio, Pandora, etc.), anything internet (either pay for service through your mobile carrier or tether your phone if you have a great data plan), diagnostics...you name it. I'd also want it to auto sync to my phone and be able to tell when I'm getting in on the driver's side and put everything like I want it (mirrors, seat position, radio station, seat/steering wheel warmer, start up my Waze navigation...lol).
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 2:58 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Ability to insert a data SIM (to have the internet connectivity), so that I can remote start (from my office), close the window or lock the car if I forgot to do so and many other things to do remotely.
posted by WizKid at 2:59 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I would like some simple way to integrate an iPad Mini in any (maybe Double-DIN sized?) car stereo system. Honestly, everything you need is already in an iPad Mini that could replace everything in a car, it'd just need nice universal mounting, bluetooth sound inputs, and power to make it work. This would be no small task given the range of dashboard designs out there but a kit that simplified some of the installation would go far.

The Automatic people kind of got all the car diagnostics plus finding your car ideas pretty well down. I just wish it was easier to listen to internet-connected tablets in the car and be able to replace thousands of dollars in antiquated features (car GPS systems mostly suck and are dumb about current traffic) with a $500 iPad.
posted by mathowie at 3:23 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


I would like to install a gamma scintillator (it's like a super-sensitive geiger counter), with a readout inside the car, perhaps hooked to GPS logging so driving around creates a map of background radiation. Because I'm a nerd.

My car has a HUD and it's fantastic, but so few cars have them and I no-longer want anything without one. Non-factory HUDs I've noticed seemed like gimmicks because they can't talk to the car computer (talking to the computer means the HUD has instant readouts for your instruments - speed/revs/temp/pressure/etc, in addition to non-car-computer info like g-force, navigation, and music). And it's putting the instruments up on the road that really makes a difference. But maybe there are some car computer standard interfaces... or maybe there soon will be... that could enable a proper after-market HUD?

I would suggest getting ahead of the curve. Eg, look into this new system under development that will soon be mandatory in all new cars in the USA, and think about what amazing things you might be able to do with it. That entire market is a one big gap because the market will only start to exist soon. Similarly, I think "Black Boxes" also just became mandatory in new cars, who knows what else is about to become standard equipment in cars, opening up potent new possibilities.
posted by anonymisc at 4:10 PM on February 17


Some kind of gadget that can add iPhone input to my stereo system without needing to buy an aftermarket car stereo and pay someone to install it.

This could come in the form of an FM radio transmitter that actually works even in large cities, an adapter of some kind (which wouldn't depend on having another piece of antiquated kit like a tape deck), or some kind of bluetooth receiver/speaker specially designed to be used in a car. Don't care. Just tired of listening to the radio.
posted by Sara C. at 4:13 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


360 cameras to record what's going on around me and saved into a "black box" type of thing.

You could show cops idiot drivers and all kinds of cool stuff.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:36 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


A scangauge-type device that works on older cars (like mine) which don't have OBDII. There's the mpguino, but you either have to solder one together yourself from scratch or buy one from a hobbyist who will cobble one together for you whenever he/she has the time. Of course, the number of OBDI cars on the road is only going to decline, so this may not be viable from a business perspective.
posted by Scientist at 7:08 PM on February 17


What I've always dreamed of is the ability to just say what I want to the car. I know that's a subset of voice recognition in the home or business or wherever, but it seems to me (?) that the car may be noisier, needs more interfaces and must also meet safety requirements. It would not only be a convenience, but would also be less distracting than playing with buttons and knobs and touch screens.
posted by forthright at 7:22 PM on February 17


I'd like the ability to judge the effectiveness of modifications on performance and gas mileage. With accelerometers you could use the "coast down" method calculating rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag. The effect of changing to wider or narrower tires, change the tire pressure, adding a roof rack or spoiler could all be quantified. And of course measure acceleration and cornering g-force. And I'd love to be able to measure the distance from a point on the body at all four corners to the ground. Correlated with lateral G's you would know how hard the car leans in the corners, and correlated with speed you could see if the car is "floating" high speeds.
posted by 445supermag at 7:37 PM on February 17


I would just like a little microphone on a stick that I could wave around the back of the car while (someone else is) driving to find out where that squeak/rattle/hum/buzz/knock/thump is coming from.
posted by nicwolff at 7:50 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


A cheap way to reset the TPMS sensor on my honda cars (oddysey+fit) so I don't have to take them into the dealer after I swap summer/winter tires.
posted by Poldo at 8:56 PM on February 17


An App that tracks and calculates mileage and other expenses for people who use their cars for business. I can imagine this is easy using accelerometers and GPS etc.
posted by Gungho at 7:57 AM on February 18


An LED signboard for the back of my car to flash messages to other cars, such as "I'M ON CRUISE CONTROL, WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?"
posted by norm at 8:03 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


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