Automotive Gadget Wish List

Date Published: 30 January 2008

Automotive Gadget Wish List

A few weeks ago I posted about Ford SYNC, which runs on Microsoft Windows Automotive. The technology is definitely a step in the right direction, but I have to agree with Sondre, another Regional Director, that it’s not enough and really should be nearly ubiquitous by now. Heck, I was amazed my last car didn’t have an aux input for my MP3 player back in 2006. Here it’s two years later and many if not most cars *still* don’t have this simple feature.

So with SYNC you can do some nice things, like use voice to operate your ZunePod or your bluetooth enabled phone device. That’s quite cool, but there’s so much more that you should have in your car, especially if a) you’re paying 10’s of thousands of dollars for it and b) you are spending 10 or more hours in it per week. Sondre ends his post with a decent list; let me call out the things I would really like to see in my car. Some of these already exist, naturally, but in many cases they’re only available in one off-shoot variant of the model or you have to choose between two things – you can’t have both.

GPS – A GPS navigation system should be standard equipment on most non-economy class cars sold today. Or if it is an option, it shouldn’t cost more than $500. The GPS should use the car’s internal hard drive (below) to store its information and be updateable with the car’s Wifi (below).

Hard Drive – Not necessarily a full PC, but certainly a 20GB hard drive or even an 8GB memory stick would provide storage to support the GPS, music system, and other areas of the car’s electronics system. I would recommend an external hard drive in the $100 price range, which today means 120-400GB. Could also be used to store media for the movie player, brought in via Tivo, Amazon UnBox, etc.

WiFi – Of course your car should have WiFi. And you should be able to configure it to talk to your home WiFi from your garage. It should pick up GPS map updates as they come out and synch its MP3s with the ones on your home server or media center. If you only ever listen to podcasts on your daily commute, your car can grab the podcasts and you can leave them off of your ZunePod. If your kids like to watch Sesame Street on the way home from school, it can grab the latest Sesame Street off of your TiVo. When you’re planning a trip on your laptop or PC, and you want specific directions or the address to be on your car, you email it and your car’s dedicated email box picks it up and knows what to do with the contents – adding the directions or address to your navigation system, in this case.

Movie Display– For SUV/Van/Luxury car passenger area. Not limited to a DVD system, but capable of playing content from a ZunePod, the vehicle’s hard drive, or the built-in DVD/BlueRay system.

Universal Phone Dock – Find me a spot to put my phone where it can charge and I can reach it and use it without risk of wrecking the car. It needs to be built into the car and it needs to be customizable to fit any form factor of phone (within reason). I’m tired of my phone sliding around the console, or having to fish into my pocket for it, etc. The phone dock should also have a spot where my bluetooth headset can stay when I’m not using it, and charge it. Ideally there should be a magnet that will hold the bluetooth headset in place and charge it while it sits there via induction or something similar, so that I can pick it up, use it, and put it down without having to unplug or plug anything, and it stays charged. Ideally the same goes for the phone, but I won’t hold my breath, so just give me a dock that I can slide the phone into that will ensure that, when in the dock, the phone can charge. And perhaps sync with the local hard drive.

I have some other ideas but I’m short of time. What gadgets or technology improvements do you wish your car had?

Steve Smith

About Ardalis

Software Architect

Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.