According to the web site, CES is the World’s largest consumer electronics show. More important to us is SEMA which, also is showed at the Las Vegas Convention Centre once a year. The latter is considered the premiere speciality automotive products trade event in the World & is not open to the general public.
But, on the other side of the planet, another enormous Electronics & Components Exhibition takes place at the Hong Kong Expo Centre. Like Ces, it typically hosts previews of products and new announcements.
It also has on display innovation of new magic for the car enthusiast & this is what interests us, the car fanatics! With all the new technology squeezed into new cars; this is the place to get the first glimpse of what may be available for after market wizardry. That heads up display initially developed for military aviation & first seen in colour in the auto industry on the 2001 Corvette will be on show. But, even better, some creations are not even available on new cars!
So what’s new??
As in past recent years, GPS in car navigation is a major player. But now, aftermarket is now OEM! I’ll explain. The usual method of installing a DVD player with satellite navigation (SAT/NAV) was to install what was called the double din stereo (a stereo double the size of the standard) which had a screen & needed necessary attachments to fit the dash. This included at the least, a plastic facia adaptor & a wiring harness. Those accessories would make the install as close as possible to OEM; but not exactly. In some cases, in fact in mostly all, certain features like steering controls would be lost. Not anymore.
This is where aftermarket has become OEM, now the replacement aftermarket SAT/NAV looks, feel & functions exactly like an OEM stereo that would be provided by factory. Even steering controls work as normal as well as the car’s Logo is displayed on start up. A reverse camera may also be installed; again just like OEM, no drilling or adjustments.
It gets better, better as the aftermarket has gone a few steps further than what is provided by most car manufacturers. The reverse camera assistance in some models even has a gyroscope built in; this helps the driver manoeuvre into the parking space by adjusting the guidance picture according to the steering angle, giving directions so to speak in which way to turn in.
Other models have also introduced 3G internet maximising online possibilities in the car; a great way to keep up with work on a touch screen in the car without the need to open up your lap top or tablet.
To top it all off & amusing for the younger generation, some even have a games console built in. Whip out the controller & fire away while waiting for the last minute touches she has to make; no more complaints why she’s fashionably late!
My favourite wizardry at the show was an invincible device. Everybody knows about remote central locking; touch a button & lock or unlock the car; it’s been around for years, last century’s technology even. But how about, just walk away & the car locks the doors on its own!?! The vehicle now recognises its master & on arrival, will unlock automatically as well. No more fumbling for the remote when carrying a large bag of groceries or on a dark rainy evening. A convenient tool for the commercial van or sales rep jumping in & out of his vehicle a trillion times a day. A small coded electronic chip is kept by the designated driver, this in turn communicates with the vehicle & so understands when the driver has left or came back to lock or unlock accordingly.
DRL(daytime running lights) now compulsory on new European cars. So yes, there is an aftermarket solution for this; LED strips. There were many variations from high power Led lamps to multi colour strips that may be cut to size. But, going back to making a result look like factory, cool white is in demand. For the fussy enthusiast, high powered LED lamps replace tired yellow halogens fog lights which provide a more upmarket feel. Alternatively, LED strips do look spectacular when fitted with passion, especially in the right blend of white to match those tear shedding HID headlamps. Fitted to front or rear & with a twist of creativity, they can even put OEM lights to shame!
HID lights have gone one step further; Battery conditioners have also made progress & made even cheaper to the consumer. Parking sensors are now more interesting & copper wire has taken a new approach to keep the price down...all this & more in future updates.