Global TV Tech Buzz: Car Tech

Computers are infiltrating every corner of our life. While the iPhone has been hailed as the greatest invention in recent memory, the innovations that are turning cars into computers are astounding.

This weekend the Calgary Auto Show is underway at the BMO Centre, so here’s a look at some of the ways cars are becoming computers.


They could drive themselves right now if we’d let them. If you really wanted to, you could program an address into a dash panel, climb into the backseat and wake up 7 hours later in Saskatchewan. It could happen – if we’d let it.

Google has been leading the charge of self-driving cars after announcing their self-driving project back in 2010. The idea was to “make driving safer, more enjoyable and more efficient.” Apparently you can’t do that with a person controlling the wheel.

Last year, Nevada became the first state to approve self-driving cars. California followed with similar legislation last October.

So it’s legal, but could you trust it? Google has had cars roaming the planet for their Street View project, and in over 300 000 miles driven, there has been only one accident – and a person was behind the wheel. The driverless vehicles have racked up 50k miles and still have a clean sheet.

The idea is, that by 2040, you won’t need a drivers’ license to operate a vehicle, they’ll do it on their own. People are still a little uneasy about the idea of giving that control to the machines, so they’re inching us in to the idea. Park assist, where the vehicle parallels itself, is just one way they’re softening us to the idea of self driving cars.

Still a doubter? Watch this blind man take some friends through the drive-thru.


The biggest place you’ll notice the computerization of cars, is on your dashboard. Dials and knobs are replaced by touch screens and apps. Think of everything you can do in your phone, and that can be done in cars. GPS systems are now in-dash. Backup cameras are in-dash. And if you really want to pimp your ride, you’ll find dvd screens up front too.

One story this week has raised eyebrows that car radios could soon disappear from dashboards. In the computerization of the car, there is thought that eventually it will have wireless capabilities without the need of a bluetoothing phone. Instead of a car radio, you’ll pull up a digital service that will let you select from online streaming stations, apps, and all the sorts of ways you currently listen to music on your smartphone. We already have things like that with Pioneer‘s App Radio dashboards. GM and Ford quickly said they were committed to radio.

Ignitions are changing rapidly as well. It’s gone from a key, to a fob, to a start button in many vehicles. Soon, our smartphones will the device that turns the car on, a notion that the industry calls a move towards security – until your phone battery is dead or you drop it in the toilet.

APP OF THE WEEK: Automatic [$69.95]

If you can’t afford one of these fancy new cars, you can still bring computers to your older model this spring. Automatic is a combination app and hardware unit that will launch this May for $69.95. The Automatic Link talks to your car’s onboard computer and uses your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car’s capabilities. It works with just about any car sold in the United States since 1996 to accesses its fuel, mileage and engine information, and then sends it to the iPhone over Bluetooth.

cyberbuzz on air 09|20 – 09|24

09|20 - YouTube Live

Live video on the internet is nothing new. Services like JustinTV, UStream and Qik have shown that we can be our own broadcasters and put anything we want onto the web very easily.

However, when the biggest video site on the web thinks about going from taped to live, it’s a big step.

09|21 – 3DTV Glasses

Is 3D TV here to stay? As we get in to the big fall gadget buying season – that means big tvs for football and sports, people are once again being asked to consider 3DTV.

But, according to new surveys, we’re a little resistant to jumping into the new technology. And it’s not because it’s expensive or it doesnt work, it’s because of the glasses.

09|22 – The New Twitter

If you access Twitter through the official website, you’ll notice a change in the site’s layout. It has started to bring in some of the functionality that third party apps offer by giving you a wider range of options when viewing your twitter stream than just seeing the tweets.

09|23 – Halo Reach

Titanic and Avatar may be the biggest movies of all time, but Hollywood’s got nothing on the kind of revenue being generated by the video game industry.

Halo Reach dropped last week and the prequel to one of the video game industry’s biggest franchises hit more than $200M – on its first day.

09|24 – The Situation App

The Situation
is breaking out the dancing shoes this week for a turn on Dancing WIth the Stars, but he’s also finding some time to squeeze in a little GTL and when you need to hit the gym, tan, or do your laundry what do you do? Well, there’s an app for that – actually, an app from the Situation.

cyberbuzz on air 09|06 – 09|10

September 6 – Ping

Apple changed the game last week with their announcement of Ping. Some instantly called it the death of myspace as Ping will be a social network all about music and discovering new music.

September 7 – Apple TV

Steve Jobs fired a shot across the bows of your favourite cable company last week when he unveiled a new edition of his hobby – Apple TV. The box was shrunk, the hard drive taken out and the functionality increased.

September 8 – New iPods

Last week Steve Jobs rebooted the entire iPod lineup. From Nano to Shuffle to Touch, each device received a swift upgrade.

September 9 – Canadian Apple Tax

When you buy an Apple product, you’re going to pay more for the privilege. Apple fanboys get it the same way BMW and Mercedes fans get it. Prettier costs more.

But the Apple tax in Canada comes in a different shape and size. Apple announced a new roster of products last week that had stunning pricepoints in US dollars, but when the currency gets converted and the Canadian price is announced, they don’t always match up.

September 10 – eTextbooks

It’s campus crawl time, students have been sorting out schedule conflicts and dorm assignments all week and now it’s time to seriously start cracking the books to get some reading done.

cyberbuzz this week 08|22 – 08|26

August 22 – Facebook Dislike

It may be tempting to click on a link that promises you’ll get Facebook’s ‘official dislike button,’  but don’t fall for it. It’s a scam and security firm Sophos is warning Facebook uers to steer clear of such links.

August 23 – Mobile Banking

Playing games and checking in on Facebook friends is fine from your phone, but do you do any money matters when you’re on the move?

KPMG recently released their Consumers & Convergence IV study and it shows that while mobile technology is weaving into our lives – we’re stopping short of putting it where our money is.

August 24 – Facebook Places

A new update to the facebook iPhone app was pushed out last week enabling the friend finding engine to locate exactly where your friends are.

Think Foursquare, but on Facebook. The Facebook version will work very similarly to other location based social sites. You check in when you get somewhere and you’ll be able to see a graph of which other friends are in the same place or nearby.

August 25 – Is WiFi Safe?

WiFi is ubiquitous. 
Drive down any street, sit in any cafe and open up your scanner and you’ll be bombarded with channels you could join.  Office buildings, with many unique companies sharing floors and towers, blast out WiFi signals for their staff. 

August 26 – Angry Birds

The most downloaded game for the iPad and iPhone is one of the most addictive. Angry Birds is a simple little slingshot game where a flock of feathered friends try to retrieve their eggs from the pigs on a farm.

Okay, the explanation doesnt make sense, but this game is brilliantly crafted to draw you in to conquer each level.

cyberbuzz this week: 08|16 – 08|20

August 16: Bing Taxi
Google maps are awesome for directions weather you want to walk, drive or take transit, but Bing – Microsoft’s very worthy Google competitor has unleashed a feature in Bing maps that Google doesnt do – calculate cab fare.

August 17: PicPocket Books
Finding apps for my kids to use on the iPad and iPhone has been a little hit and miss. I’m trying to find educational ones and gaming ones and it seem to always be easier to find the games.

August 18: App Protector Pro
You probably have a password on your iPhone so that if you lose it, the info on your device can’t be quickly accessed. But as anyone who has a fresh iPhone – like the new iPhone 4 – can attest to, everyone wants to touch it and play with it.

August 19: NBA 2K11
The debate is always there, from generation to generation. Who is the greatest of all time? How would Gretzky have fared against Gordie Howe? Is Joe Montana better than Peyton Manning? What about Kobe v Jordan?

August 20: Sexy iPhones
Want to know why the lineups are still long in malls across the country with people waiting to get their hands on an iPhone 4? Sex. A new survey by dating site OK Cupid found that those with an iPhone are the friskiest, and everyone wants in to the club.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

Fitness Resolution

You haven’t broken your New Year’s Resolution already, have you? Believe in second chances, believe in technology, and you can get it done.

The biggest resolution goal is fitness or weight loss. There are dozens and dozens of websites and Facebook Groups and apps to help you get it done.

Sensei is an application for your mobile phone. You visit a website, input your program goals and lifestyle and the web then sends messages and with customized menus, personalized workouts and encouragement directly to your phone.

You can try it free for 3 days, after that it’s about $6 a week.

Gimme20 started last January and is still helping people get and stay in shape. It’s a free resource that will build workouts for you, or track the current workout you’ve built for yourself.

If you were lucky enough to score a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, there are workouts built around the sports games. Wii Healthy is a weblog helping you play video games and lose weight! They have a 10 week program which will have you playing Wii Sports for up to 45 minutes a day. Stick mostly to the boxing and tennis games and you’ll do the best.

catch the buzz … pass it on.


Last Minute Gift Ideas

Forgot someone out of town and can’t get the gift mailed on time? Use e-mail!

iTunes gift cards are easily found at places like Safeway, but you can also gift them via email.

The iTunes store recently added Canadian tv shows to the mix, so they can get the new album from Alicia Keys, or a season’s worth of Little Mosque on the Prairie!

It’s an easy last minute solution and a great way to teach kids the legal way to get their digital entertainment.

Geeks always need more space.

We’re pack rats, constantly backing up and downloading and getting our hard drives maxed out faster than your credit card on Boxing Day.

I picked up a tight external USB hard drive this fall and I take it everywhere. A colleague of mine has many of these drives, all colour coded for movies, music, articles, data etc.

Can’t get your hands on a Nintendo Wii or Rock Band? Intellivision would be a treat.

Back in the day you needed the console and the cartridges, now you just need to buy the joystick.

All 25 games are stored inside, you just plug it in to your tv and you’re rocking out to Space Armada, Sea Hunt and horribly pixilated hockey.

catch the buzz … pass it on.


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