Automotive

Innovation Invasion

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Nothing, not even the fierce Detroit winter can get in the way of the annual exodus of automobile enthusiasts to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). I love cars, I’ve always been fascinated by them. I can talk confidently about driverless cars and am one hell of a parallel park-er. But if cars were video games, I’d be what you’d call a casual gamer, and maybe that’s why I am here.

To the casual observer, NAIAS 2016 is all about fancy new cars, and for the most part, that’s about right. All the big guns have come out to play with their best foots forward. At least 5 high-end luxury cars were unveiled at the show, and as many concept cars were introduced, teasing a not too distant future in travel.

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Behind the blue oval. The Ford booth at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.

This event sets the stage for the rest of the year and then some. And even sans an in-depth understanding of what makes cars tick, its pretty evident we have a lot to be excited about.

But there’s more to NAIAS 2016 than meets the eye. It is a critical time for the auto industry, fresh from a record breaking year of car sales, it is a time of much potential and growth. But looming in the shadows is a threat of disruption from the technology sector.

With fully automated, driverless cars almost tangible, and players like Apple and Google in the mix, tech companies are poised to change the game forever as automotive manufactures struggle to keep pace with technological innovations.

Which is understandable, its easier to build a smartphone, than it is to build a car. The average car product cycle is 3-5 years, upgrades are almost impossible unless you buy a new car, and most automotive giants are just not as nimble as a tech startup, or a tech giant with the resources to experiment on some crazy idea that may change the world. 

But there is one car company that’s dared to be different. Headquartered not too far from where NAIAS is taking place is the Ford Motor Company, technology savvy, innovation focused, and no longer just a car company anymore.

The self proclaimed mobility company is looking into a host of already existing technological advancements that can make their way into the cars of tomorrow. Beyond driverless cars there’s electrification of vehicles, always-on Internet connectivity, data collection, apps and software, and integration with the Internet of Things.

Smart Home Integration

AmazonEcho_2733_HR

Sync 3 brings Amazon Echo and Alexa integration.

As the tech world zeroes in on the smart home, Ford believes cars can and should be part of the equation. Very soon, Ford cars will integrate seamlessly with existing smart hubs like Amazon Echo, a virtual personal assistant built into a cylindrical bluetooth speaker. Amazon Echo responds to voice commands and can control household appliances, answer Internet-based questions, and even online shop for you.   

Soon Amazon Echo will also be able to start your car, and tell you how far more you can drive based on your current fuel levels. Users will also be able to summon Echo remotely from inside their Ford vehicles, so you could for example, ask it to turn on the lights, or open the garage door as you approach.

Wearable Integration

ford-wearables

Soon smartwatches and fitness trackers will integrate better, and smarter with our cars.

Wearables are another growing trend in the consumer tech world and inside Ford’s newly minted Automotive Wearables Experience Lab, scientists are looking into how smartwatches and fitness trackers can best complement the driving experience.

From simple things like receiving alerts on your smartwatch when you leave car doors unlocked or your keys inside. To more high-tech solutions like automatically uploading health and sleep information from your wearable to your car, and having the car adjust safety settings based on its assessment of your current state. If your car thinks you didn’t get enough sleep, Ford’s adaptive cruise control technology can increase the distance between your car and other vehicles to allow more time for your reflexes to kick in case of a traffic incident.

Data Analytics

In its own respect Ford is working to make its own cars smarter. A joint project with IBM hopes to create a platform that will allow researchers to collect data from cars, identify trends and patterns, and use those findings to provide commuters with better transportation decisions. The nitty gritty of this platform is way too geeky, but it should theoretically be able to tell you when taking the subway, or a bicycle is a more time efficient means of getting to work on a particular day. The platform should also benefit what Ford calls Parking Prediction technology to help you find empty parking spots.

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Journalists swarm around the newly announced Ford vehicles after the Ford keynote at the North American International Auto Show.

While as expected, cars were front and center at the North American International Auto Show, Ford was looking beyonds cars. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of new cars including the new super high-tech Fusion Sedan, the monster F-150 Raptor pickup truck, as well as the first pre-production model of the GT Super Car. 

Instead the message was about doing things differently and driving change. As the motoring world is bracing itself for disruption, Ford is on a bold path to disrupt themselves.

VLOG: Gorilla Glass on a Car

They’re on plenty of smartphones, but have you heard of Gorilla Glass windshields? #FordNAIAS

Posted by GadgetMatch on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Automotive

The Ford EcoSport is the essential travel buddy for tech geeks

For both beginners and sporty drivers

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For years, automobiles have slowly left the realm of technology. Now, at least in the public’s eyes, cars exist more as a means of transportation, rather than feats of technology.

However, if you were part of the driving public over the last decade, you would have realized two things. Firstly, a great car is just as invaluable as an amazing flagship phone. Secondly, with the number of features packed into a car today, the line between technology and transportation is blurring once again.

Just as how they pioneered the moto industry in the United States, Ford is again leading the charge for technologically capable cars for the modern market. In 1908, it was the first Model T Ford. In 2018, it’s the Ford EcoSport.

What’s under the hood?

Sporting a 1.5-liter Ti VCT 110ps/142Nm engine, the Ford EcoSport is a capable daily driver for both urban stop-and-start traffic and countryside rough riding. For its size, the EcoSport straddles the fine line between sedan and SUV.

Further, this hardy engine is mated to a 6-speed PowerShift transmission (5-speed for manual). From a performance standpoint, the EcoSport transitions smoothly in and out of Sport mode.

Potholes? No problem!

With all this in mind, the EcoSport can blaze through most driving situations you can throw at it. Whether it was for urban trekking through tight roads or riding through tough rural tracks, the EcoSport powered through with barely a hiccup.

Potholes and unpaved roads were no match for the EcoSport’s suspension. Jolts and drops didn’t have as much impact as it usually does with other cars. The EcoSport inspires confidence even for inexperienced drivers.

Even with moderately deep mud pits, the EcoSport can power through with just brute force. Its capable engine can clear obstacles without flooring the pedal. Additionally, its high ground clearance can go through the debilitating floods that usually frequent the metro.

The EcoSport’s confidence carries itself despite challenging situations. A lot of cars today don’t inspire the same confidence as the Ford EcoSport.

Crank it up to 11

As with most Ford cars, the EcoSport carries a welcome Sport mode for accessing that extra boost you need for both smoother and hardier conditions. Sadly, most people don’t access this feature out of fear for what it’s capable of.

As the name implies, the Sport mode brings a sportier vibe to the EcoSport’s drive. Costing a small bit of fuel efficiency, the specialized mode injects improved speed, handling, and traction to everyday drives.

Personally, the Ford EcoSport brought one of the smoothest driving experiences I’ve handled across the industry. The Sport mode handled amazingly well against metro traffic.

All that junk inside that trunk

Besides exemplary performance, the EcoSport is a champ at four- to five-seater space allotment.

There’s nothing more comfortable than a ride that offers a mile’s worth of legroom. While the Ecosport isn’t the most spacious, it offers more than adequate room for even long legs. Riding or driving for hours is a breeze with the EcoSport’s space.

Sporting around twenty slots and compartments for gizmos, the EcoSport can carry an entire storeroom of goodies. Even as a dedicated tech geek, I was able to fit complete rosters of devices. On a road trip, I brought a sizable bag with my huge 15-inch laptop, an assorted yarn of chargers, mice, and mouse pads. It fits snuggly with a hard case for my DSLR and its variety of lenses.

Even then, the EcoSport can still pack in bags of food, gym bags, and more people. Ford even boasts that the back trunk has space for a 560-liter washing machine.

Despite the wide space available, the EcoSport’s thermal control system can cool or heat passengers adequately throughout the cabin.

Jamming to the sync

Sadly, commercially viable self-driving cars are still years into the future. Thankfully, smart technology isn’t limited to intuitive AI.

As always, Ford installs their trademark SYNC technology into the Ford EcoSport. The feature melds the car with the abilities of a smartphone.

Its most popular use is to connect your phone’s media to the car’s entertainment system. Besides through an AUX, USB, memory card, or CD, SYNC’s Bluetooth connectivity adds convenience to jamming through congested traffic.

The feature also adds to your device’s phone features. It takes a hands- and distraction-free approach to managing your phone life.

Additionally, the features boast added support for the most useful apps for driving. With a bit of technological know-how, the car’s infotainment system can access and display Waze for convenient navigating through alleyways and side streets.

Safety first

Ford remains at the forefront of road safety. With a slew of safety features, drivers can rest assured that the EcoSport won’t skid uncontrollably.

The EcoSport comes equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and Electronic Stability Program. The mechanisms prevent skidding, wheel spins, and understeering.

Further, the rear also has parking sensors to help with all forms of parking.

Pick your colors

Even with the all-in-one package, the Ford EcoSport offers options for how it looks. It comes in four variants (Ambiente 1.5L MT, Trend 1.5L MT, Trend 1.5L AT, Titanium 1.5L AT) and six different colors (Panther Black, Ingot Silver, Winning Blue, Candy Red, Mars Red, Frozen White). Personally, the Frozen White variant is quite the looker.

Further, sportier fans can grab the Black Edition, which offers more style than the six regular variants. Besides black finishing for the exterior grills and tires, the variant also touts roof cross bars, rear spoilers, illuminated scruff plates, and sports pedals.

SEE ALSO: Ford launches all-new Mustang and Expedition at MIAS 2018

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Apps

Toyota makes $1 billion investment in Grab

The ride-sharing company hopes to expand operations through the partnership

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Japanese car company Toyota Motor Corporation announced its US$ 1 billion investment plan for the ride-sharing app Grab last Wednesday. Toyota’s investment aims to improve Grab’s operations in Southeast Asia, particularly towards the app’s new features in GrabFood, GrabExpress, and GrabPay.

Grab officials stated that the investment improves their relationship with Toyota and provides better business solutions, as well. Both companies will look into new strategies towards vehicular mobility in Southeast Asia and better “online-to-offline services.” The investment also ensures that an executive from Toyota will be appointed in Grab’s board of directors, and a team member will be an executive officer in Grab.

The investment will also allow Toyota to integrate its services for driver insurance and maintenance. This means that Grab will provide incentives for its drivers to drive safely and to know when to have their vehicles checked. The two companies are also looking into the possibility of autonomous driving, although no plans have been made yet.

This is not the first time Toyota has provided financial support for the Singapore-based ride-sharing company. A year ago, Toyota funded Grab through its Next Technology Fund — an investment fund for artificial intelligence-based startups. The fund gave Toyota an opportunity to optimize the use of their cars for Grab’s services.

Source: TechCrunch

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Accessories

Father’s Day Gift Guide: Give back to our dads!

We made you a list so you won’t have to worry

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Father’s Day is just around the corner!

Take the chance to give back and send some love. Here’s a quick list of things you can give your dad:

Give him a smartwatch to track the important things in life

The Fossil Q Commuter is a hybrid smartwatch that doesn’t look like one. It’s classic and stylish, and it uses smart technology to keep your dad updated with all the important things in life.

Fossil Q Commuter (Dark Brown Leather) – US$ 155

A camera to capture all the moments and experiences

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic has that timeless retro look that even I really dig. It instantly prints your photos and is perfect for those who treasure every moment.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic – US$ 179.99

Give him a smartphone that gets things done

They always give their best for us, and it’s our chance to give them back the best. The Huawei P20 Pro is a leading smartphone in the market today, a match for the dad who’s always aiming to be on top!

Huawei P20 Pro – US$ 899

A wireless speaker he can bring wherever he goes

If he loves to move and groove, a JBL Flip 4 might be what he needs. It’s loud and it’s waterproof so he’ll have his sounds anytime, anywhere.

JBL Flip 4 – US$ 99.95

Give him a power bank so he’s always charged up

Make sure he’s connected by having his devices charged all the time. The Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 is pocketable and it’s packed with power. He’ll never be disconnected again!

Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 – US$39.99

Get him a wallet that protects his valuables

Give him the SERMAN BRANDS 1.0 wallet, equipped with RFID secure technology that will protect him from any unauthorized scans. It also comes in Texas Brown and is stylishly slim in genuine leather.

SERMAN BRANDS 1.0 (Texas Brown) – US$ 34.99

Give him the gift of adventure

If you’re feeling really generous, give him the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. It’s a tough vehicle made for adventures. When was the last time your dad went to the great outdoors for some fun? Surely, that was ages ago. Let him enjoy his time!

2018 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor – US$ 50,675

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