By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- August 20, 2015 -- Fun and interesting news bits and overlooked stories from the week that was:
- The new and exciting world of criminal car hacking continues to evolve. Researchers have found that a car fitted with a new device from Metromile that allows the company users to charge "by-the-mile" insurance can make the car vulnerable. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego discovered several security flaws in the device and were able to operate wipers and deactivate the brakes on a 2013 Corvette by simply sending texts. Another study has found electronic “immobilisers” used by 26 car manufacturers in the EU are vulnerable to hacking. Immobilisers used in 100 different models from Volvo, VW, Audi and Fiat, typically in cars with a starter button instead of a key. The study also found that four out of 10 car thefts in major cities like London now involve some form of car hacking.
- News on Apple’s electric car initiative, "Project Titan", continues to leak. The project is said to be headed up by Steve Zadesky, a former Ford staffer. “Hundreds of people” are working on the project. It said it will "give Tesla a run for its money.” A German magazine has reported that Apple has discussed using BMW’s i3 car as the basis for an EV. An Apple analyst has stated it’s “very likely” the company is also working on a head-up display (HUD) for car windshields.
- A UK insurance executive is blaming a 10 percent hike in insurance rates on drivers texting at the wheel. The story cites a survey that found 16 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds think it is acceptable to send or receive messages if traffic is slow. The other reason cited for the 10 percent increase in rates: more people are on the road because of cheaper gasoline prices and “improving disposable incomes.”
- Finally, it’s here: A tire rim with built-in GPS capability. Didn’t think you needed your rims to connect to the internet? Think again. The new product, RimTech, is designed to prevent theft of expensive rims. The product is developed by former Nokia, IBM, and Motorola executives and sees a GPS, motion sensor, and camera installed in the wheel. The owner then accesses the devices through an iPhone or Android app. If someone comes with 3 inches of the wheels or moves the rims more than 3mm, RimTech sounds a continuous alarm. If the wheels are removed a second alert goes out to police. The RimTech app can also track the wheel’s real-time location through the GPS unit.
"The auto industry has yet to introduce a fully comprehensive and effective wheel theft prevention system to the marketplace. Wheel locks are totally ineffective and can be removed in seconds. RimTech is the solution,” says Terrence Gaskin, founder and CEO of the company manufacturing the product. Gaskin said his company intends to partner with insurance companies “to offer discounts for protected drivers.”
- Another new product: World Patent Marketing announced the launch of Incognito Tint this week, an automotive invention that allows drivers to “dynamically change the tint of their vehicle's windows.” The device uses LED lights to darken or lighten the tint of a vehicle's windshield. The window's tint and can change color depending on the color of the LED lights turned on. “This is an automotive invention that makes use of existing tech which makes it easy to install on almost every car in the world," says inventor Henry C. "Most car doors and windows are powered by electricity which makes the installation of Incognito Tint very easy as it simply needs to connect to already existing circuits. This invention gives drivers the ability to freely control the tint of their glass windows without having to permanently add or remove more tint on the glass."
- Hoping to avoid having thieves overlook your fancy car? One fairly drastic option is to cover your vehicle in custom painted vinyl so it looks like a piece of junk.
- Could 3D printing see collision repair shops eventually print parts onsite? It's probably still a bit early, but some people think it's a technology that we'll see sooner or later.