By on May 14, 2013

lanewatch1

I recently made a troubling discovery. Samsung, noted manufacturer of telephones the size of a license plate, is now producing a refrigerator with Twitter. Let me repeat that for those of you who merely skim my articles (Hi, mom!). Samsung manufacturers a refrigerator with Twitter.

The refrigerator’s screen (which also includes other similarly useless apps) is located just above where you get ice. This is highly convenient. Primarily, it’s convenient for Samsung, who will gladly replace the screen for thousands of dollars when you get it wet. But it’s also convenient for you, the refrigerator operator, since it allows you to get ice and tweet: I just got ice. #cold #drink #icerocks2013 #yourdrinkiswarmerthanmine

I know what you’re thinking: Is this going to be about cars? And the answer is: only sort of. At this point, you’re more than forgiven if you’d rather see what Sajeev has written today. (Bye, mom!)

The theme of all this is that technology is coming, whether you like it or not. I still remember, years ago, thinking “yeah, right!” when I heard they were going to put cameras in cell phones. Now, I can use my phone to take a photo of my iced drink, tweet the photo, and then re-tweet it using my refrigerator. (No, I have no idea how Twitter works.)

fridge

Of course, technology’s ever-expanding reach is also affecting modern cars. The best example of this is Toyota’s Entune navigation system, which you can now use to get movie reviews, buy movie tickets, and make restaurant reservations. According to Toyota, this does not lead to distracted driving, an assertion which is apparently believed by the NHTSA and no one else.

Hyundai Blue Link offers a far creepier take on infotainment. Yes, you can do the normal stuff, like use Pandora and re-tweet your twitters (or something). But you can also set up a geographical perimeter and receive text messages every time the car leaves it. This is a wonderful idea pitched as a benefit to families with young drivers, though it will almost exclusively be used by families with cheating spouses.

Blue Link can also send you a text message every time the car exceeds a certain speed. This one actually is brilliant, since it allows you to confront your spouse about where he went and how fast he got there. Imagine the court transcript: “Defendant was tracked to Stacy’s home on Thursday, May 9, using Hyundai Blue Link. Defendant travelled there at 87 miles per hour.” #busted!!

More Technology

Beyond infotainment, we have to contend with new technology in other areas. Take, for example, BMW’s latest turn signal mechanism. Here’s how it works: you press the signal. It stays on, but pops back into the normal position. So you press it the other way to cancel it, which causes the other signal to turn on. Eventually, you’re killed in a fiery crash as you try and figure out how the hell the turn signal works. BMW is not totally opposed to this, since it means you can no longer complain on the JD Power surveys.

Personally, I’m of the belief that we don’t really need any new technology in the world of turn signals. That’s because every car in the history of the automobile has used pretty much the same system, and it works quite well. But there’s one new feature that’s really gotten me excited: Honda LaneWatch. Although Alex L. Dykes isn’t a fan, I’m here to provide a counterpoint.

LaneWatch is standard on all Accords above the EX trim level, which is all the Accords you’d buy, because you’re not a cheap bastard, am I right? Here’s how it works: first, you press the right turn signal. Immediately afterwards, a camera turns on that displays literally every single thing on the right side of your vehicle. Seriously: when I’m in Atlanta heading north, the camera shows the next lane, the neighborhood to my right, the next county, and – if I’m on a slight incline – most of the Atlantic Ocean.

lanewatch2

I recently had a Honda Accord press car with LaneWatch, and I was so impressed by the feature that I didn’t use the passenger mirror once throughout the entirety of my time with the car. This is pretty cool: a camera that completely takes the place of a side-view mirror. Concept cars have teased the idea for years, but here I was actually experiencing it in a $25,000 Honda Accord!

Where LaneWatch does become gimmicky is that you can turn it on and monitor things without the turn signal activated. While this can be enjoyable, it’s possibly the only thing more distracting than using your touchscreen to buy movie tickets. Still, when used for its intended purpose, LaneWatch is tremendously helpful. The picture’s clear, it’s aimed exactly where you want, and – to help you decide if it’s safe to change lanes – it even displays three different on-screen lines: Green, Yellow, and BMW Driver.

When I gave back the Accord and returned to my LaneWatch-less SUV, I began to realize just how much technology is missing from my life. So I did the only rational thing I could think of: I drove straight to the store and joined the 21st century. And I love it. This message was sent from my refrigerator.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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104 Comments on “I Think Honda LaneWatch Is Awesome...”


  • avatar

    Cameras instead of mirrors make sense in the world of CAFE and the government policy of driving up the cost of driving for the greater good as defined by powerful liberals. Saves fuel!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Some quick googling reveals that an HD web cam from Amazon is $30.58 a side mirror for an ’09 Accord is $48.28.

      So, what is your point exactly?

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Wouldn’t the improved aerodynamics mean cars are also faster? By your logic, Pete, “powerful liberals” are behind improvements in car performance? Awesome.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        And lighter!

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          And much easier to lane split past, for those of us approaching gridlock with at least a sliver of sanity. Trucks with tow mirrors need this technology NOW.

          In a few years, someone is bound to come out with a synthetic view of the car and it’s surroundings as viewed from above, like some of the fancier parking aids. Then you’ll really know when changing lanes are safe.

          • 0 avatar
            wumpus

            The [sane] speeders best friend: the chase drone!

            Scan the road ahead for cops, Sunday drivers, cars in the opposing lane (use all the line), deer, pedstrians, cows, falling rocks, pot holes easily mistaken for sinkholes, etc.

            I’ve often assumed that you could safely drive full speed on sufficienty empty roads with a Cessna above checking the way. The obvious point is that you could get there even faster in the Cessna. A drone could do the same and go back in your trunk.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Mercedes just introduced that kind of system, but it’s used for parking.

            http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.auto123.com/ArtImages/146361/Mercedes-Benz-GL-Class-2013_i02.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.auto123.com/en/auto-parts/2013-mercedes-benz-gl-class-first-impressions?artid%3D146361&h=265&w=470&sz=110&tbnid=bkNhjrTyZPPezM:&tbnh=68&tbnw=120&zoom=1&usg=__C1NRKY7MuHMDO2MnCLW_xFj8h04=&docid=NGIJ1xFD2Yn0fM&sa=X&ei=EeCSUaHcM6aIygGWu4DYAw&ved=0CFcQ9QEwAA&dur=1148

          • 0 avatar
            MLS

            @MBella — Infiniti has had such a system for parking for several years now.

          • 0 avatar

            @Mbella and @MLS Yep. My aunt’s 2010 EX35 has this and it is fantastic. Although when it and the parking sensors get going in a tight spot it can be too much too fast (one would do, and the camera system is by far the more useful of those two parking aids).

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    I’ve no objection in principle to driving aids like reversing cameras and this side-view camera, so long as they have screens that are visible in bright sunlight but which don’t light the dashboard up like a battlefield when you’re driving at night.

    The problem is not in the tech but rather in its application, if you are checking your mirrors/side camera after signalling or if the camera only activates when the signal is being used then you are in danger of signalling when it mightn’t be safe to do so. If having the camera or screen working all the time is distracting then that is another flaw in the system. .

    What’s so wrong with mirrors and swivelling neck-joints all of a sudden anyway?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s just so 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Signaling when it isn’t safe to do so? What do you mean?

      • 0 avatar
        Jellodyne

        pleb means signalling when it’s not safe to move over — the normal procedure is to check your mirrors for an opening, then signal. Lose the mirror, and you’re checking for an opening by hitting the signal, when there could well be a car there.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          What’s the point in signaling if there are no other cars to see it?

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Whoa CJ, that was totally zen. There is no right answer. It is through the contemplation of the question that enlightenment will come.

          • 0 avatar

            Two reasons:

            1. You might be wrong about there being other cars.
            2. You want signaling to become such an automatic habit, that you do it without thinking about it at all. That way you will never forget to do it.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            If you should not signal unless there’s an opening, no one would signal during periods of heavy traffic. A signal is as much “I want to move over” as “I intend to move over.”

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          If you need to change lanes, there is no problem signaling your intent before its safe to move over.

          • 0 avatar
            redliner

            I do this all the time, especially in heavy traffic. Many times the car behind will slow down just a tad in an effort to give you a little more space to merge. The fact that the turn signal is on longer also means that people around you are more likely to notice it as they re-tweet about their favorite Pandora station on Entune.

            Also, I signal even when I think I’m the only car on the road. It’s a good habit to have and in case I somehow lost someone in a blind spot, they might notice it. Might be the difference between a close call and a crash.

          • 0 avatar
            another_pleb

            I don’t want to labour a point redliner but if you are in doubt that there may be a car hidden in your blond-spot, you should not just switch on your signal and start changing direction. It is always better to double check your relevant mirrors and back this up with a glance over your shoulder if necessary, then signal, then manoeuvre.

            You wouldn’t start disassembling a gun if you doubted that the chamber was empty; you would check first.

            The MSM routine is drummed into the heads of learner drivers for a reason.

          • 0 avatar
            wumpus

            Virginian (and I assume Boston) drivers take that as a hint that the lane in question will be blocked and butt in before you have a chance. Maryland drivers might watch the fancy blinking light, but won’t react at all to it.

            I am jelous of those who can signal without the sneaking suspicion that all they are doing is giving information to the enemy.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            It seems dumb to do that much checking prior to turning on a signal, just to have to do it all over again when you actually do move over. (Because in heavy traffic, things can change that quickly.) Hence, when it seems a decent time, use the signal, do your thorough check & move over. If there’s a car in the way, leave the signal on and accomodate them safely.

      • 0 avatar
        another_pleb

        A good example of when it wouldn’t be safe to signal would be if you catch up with a slower vehicle and decide to overtake them. Using a directional signal before checking that it is safe could mean that you cause a third vehicle who has decided to overtake both of you to take evasive action if he were to see your turn signal come on suddenly as of you were to pull out in front of them right that second.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Could be the wind from a butterfly’s wings…

          The guy overtaking you should not be in your blind spot and should not over react. His problem.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            And they shouldn’t be going so fast & with such small reaction time periods that is would pose a problem.

          • 0 avatar
            another_pleb

            The only thing on the road that you have any control over is your own vehicle. If someone is doing something stupid, it’s best to stay out of their way and let hem get on with it, but to do this you will first need to be aware of their presence. Just sticking on your indicator and hoping that the traffic will part like the Red Sea is potentially dangerous.

            Don’t just leave it until the last second to merge into traffic from an on-ramp. Start planning what speed to reach and which gap you want to fill as early as possible.

            Observation and anticipation are they key in this case and cameras, radars and other equipment can aid observation but there’s still nothing much to beat effective mirror checks and a glance over your shoulder to allow you to anticipate potential hazards.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      In my 2013 Accord Touring, I use the LaneWatch as a final check before I make a move, after I check the mirror and over my shoulder.

      You can toggle it on and off via a button on the end of the turn-signal stalk, so it’s handy for getting a better view of what’s coming if you’re stopped in traffic, and need to move into a freer-flowing right lane, for example.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    It’s fine for BMW’s to have turn signals that barely work, I mean their owners will probably never touch the stalk anyways….

    I’ve driven a few newer Fords with wacky turn signals too, sounds a lot like what you describe. I think it was a waste of time and effort to reinvent the turn signal stalk, the old fashioned ones have always worked pretty well for me.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’m guessing BMW owning TTAC readers are right now learning that the turn signals they’re not using today are somehow different from the turn signals they haven’t used in the past.

      • 0 avatar

        Hah! Would be my nomination for comment of the day. If we were that other site.

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        I would take issue with your anti-BMW comments, if I had not been cut off repeatedly by cars that were not using turn signals this week – some of them BMWs.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I drove BMWs for 24 years, so all I really have against current BM drivers is that they bought ugly, indifferent driving, gimmick laden luxury cars; thereby confirming that management was right in abandoning sighted enthusiasts in favor of fashion chasing status seekers.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’ve noticed the wacky turn signals on Fords & VWs. I’ve been told they are on Chevys, too, but I can’t recall. Personally, I thought it was a German thing that got picked up by the Ford cars designed in Germany (like the Focus).

      Basically, a single tap makes it blink 3 times. In theory, the Ford can be deactivated by an opposite tap, but the VW I drove with it completed the 3 blinks no matter what, and would then procede to blink 3 times in the opposite direction. To make matters worse, the VW had a stalk for cruise control, and it was easy to hit the turn signal stalk when going for the cruise.

      IMO, it’s just a complication that doesn’t need to exist. Three blinks isn’t suitablely long in my area because traffic is often too heavy, and to default it to a long enough time is just obnoxious. Since the old method is simpler & better, it really seems like a case of fixing something until it’s broken.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        It used to be you just hold the stick half way and it would blink without engaging the cam. What ever happened to that?

        Works fantastic i use it all the time in my ford truck with 1970′s era steering column and turn signal stalk.

        Since my flasher is quiet and the diesel engine loud with no sound deadening of the era. I drive listening to the cam in the steering wheel click to know the signal is off.

      • 0 avatar
        justgregit

        I have a Golf TDI, and at first it drove me crazy, but once I got used to it I started usually using the half press turn signal. For the first week though I looked like a major jerk because I would turn one signal on then the opposite one and flip back and forth about 8 times before I realized it would just turn off.

        The only time its maybe annoying is when I accidentally hit it and my blinker is just on for no reason for 5 to 10 seconds. Its not the longest amount of time, but its usually enough and if it goes out I just tap it again, still simpler than turning it off.

        Regardless, its still better than my other car, an 87 4runner, which has serious electrical problems. First of all it doesn’t turn off when you fully turn, so you have to flip it off, an inconvenience, but not the end of the world. The worst bug is that when I turn the turn signal on in that car it turns the high beams on. This would not be such an issue, if not for the fact that when the high beams turn on the lights turn off. This was the reason I ended up buying the Golf, because if I forgot and used the turn signals, then my lights would shut off. Really safe when you are trying to change lanes at night…

    • 0 avatar
      justgregit

      My first thought also. I was surprised to find out BMW’s even HAD turn signals, as I don’t think I have ever seen one in operation.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Honda has added a feature that blinks the signal three times if you momentarily hit the lane-change. Probably other makes do as well.

      I’ve often wondered, too, WTF is so bad about a turn signal that a manufacturer has to muck around with it (aside from the quickie lane-change thingy, which I’ve come to appreciate).

  • avatar
    lon888

    Again, leave it to the Germans to complicate something as benign as changing lanes with your turn signal. Of course, the Bimmer fanbois will exclaim it’s the most brilliant piece of engineering, ever. I can’t remember, but was Rube Goldberg a German immigrant?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It’s a lot about what you’re used to. My first car ever, had “manual” blinkers. Busted relay or something. Past the first week, I never even thought about it. Just reflexively moved the stalk up or down to simulate blinking behavior. Which I even caught myself doing after I had gotten a newer car with more standard blinking behavior.

  • avatar

    The horrible one-touch turn signals are found on many cars these days, for example Jeep Wrangler. I am not even sure BMW were pioneers in this.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      You mean the ones where you nudge it and it blinks three times? I love thoes for signaling on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        +1.

        Emulating it on lesser cars, is quite a lot more involved.

        • 0 avatar
          epsilonkore

          I love it so much on BMW’s that I found a simple add on that lets me do it on my FR-S. AutoWindow.com sells it as Tap-Turn.
          You can program it for any amount of blinks, plus it has several hazard light features (like wig wag) to draw higher attention than standard hazards when sitting still. Just pull your OEM signal box and swap it for this one. Took about $65 and 5 minutes to achieve. Granted BMW (or whoever invented it) probably uses a much more complex system, but it wasn’t hard to emulate and surpass it for cheap on “lesser vehicles”.

    • 0 avatar
      muffinlordSA

      Yeah, they’re so horrible. I mean, it’s not like anybody ever has to weave through traffic on crowded interstates or anything. And it’s so much more work to push the turn signal the exact same amount as you would on any other car to get them to stay on. But really, it’s just having the option that bothers me so much. Why do we even need a turn signal lever? You should just have two constantly alternating yellow lights so that people always think you’re turning, and give you plenty of room. Stupid lie-berals.

  • avatar
    Clarence

    I thought this post was well-written and very funny. Keep up the great work!

  • avatar
    vvk

    It would be better if Samsung produced a refrigerator that actually cooled well and lasted more than a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Don’t get me started. Modern side by side fridges and those things with three doors use a system similar to a car’s automatic climate control to distribute chilled air from the freezer – where the coils are – to the refrigerator compartment. Problem is that a refrigerator is usually a lot more demanding environment than a car and the stepper motors and flaps freeze up. Next fridge for me is a side by side – commercial refrigerator and commercial freezer as completely separate units. Screw EnergyStar, look at total life cycle costs, including cost of premature junking of junky junk with low grade stainless steel cladding to attract the unwary.

      Whew, I feel better now.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I’ve gone to seperate fridge and freezer and I won’t go back. I will admit that it takes up more space in my modest sized kitchen, but everything stays the temp it is supposed to be.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        In the house I’m living at, we have one of those fridges. The thermal sensor that controls the defroster, so the interior coils don’t freeze up, went out and the freezer went subzero while the upper section went up 20F. It was actually kind of interesting to see how the whole contraption worked.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Or a TV whose power board didn’t repeatedly fail.

      Or a BluRay player that doesn’t hard freeze when you try to watch Netflix on it.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    One-touch signals are the sort of thing that sound useless on paper, until yout try them, get used to them, and miss having them in other cars. The complainers are probably the same old farts who signal their lane change, then leave the damn thing on for the next 20 miles.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    It’s cool and all but I think most people will agree that the lane watch feature of using the head and eyes has been working pretty well.

    It seems as though car makers are coming up with this stuff just to be different. Kind of like the seat that vibrates when your about to back into something.

  • avatar

    I was about to comment on the original story but anyways add me now as a strong supporter of Lanewatch (and similar side mirror camera systems). There are 3 major benefits:

    1) The field of vision of the camera is wide-angle, you see not just the car next to you, but the car illegally passing a big-rig on the right, 3 lanes over. No more passenger side blind spots! Lanewatch is about 4x the field of vision of regular side mirrors (80º vs 18-22º), see:
    http://www.honda.com/newsandviews/article.aspx?id=7068-en
    http://automobiles.honda.com/images/2013/crosstour/features/lanewatch.jpg

    2) You can turn the camera on and off whenever you want. The toggle button is at the end of the turn signal stalk. See: http://tinyurl.com/btc9o37

    3) Simple, effective. No warning beeps/alarms/flashing lights. Basically works as a slightly larger, wide-angle, closer passenger-side mirror. Three distance indicator hashmarks help judge when it’s safe to change lanes. The lines indicate 10, 32, 70ft away: http://autos.aol.com/article/toy-honda-lane-watch/

  • avatar
    espressoBMW

    You have the BMW turn signal all wrong. Actually, you flip it the SAME directional again to cancel it. At least that’s the way it works on my antiquated 2006. But maybe you over-complicated it for the purpose of your article.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    The greatest thing since fender mirrors.

  • avatar
    Eyebolt

    Too bad it’ll be useless in states like my home of Michigan for 4 months out of the year…given the salt/dirt packed mist which will cover the lens. Happens all the time to my RCD. I find myself rubbing grime off the lens every time I get in the car in the winter.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    We were shopping for a front load washer and dryer a couple years ago, and wanted to know the difference between a $1000 set and the $5000 models.

    I became a classic by-the-pound appliance shopper once I realized that even the cheapest models had a big 3.2 cu.ft drum, a fast spin cycle, 2 rinse cycles, and a moisture sensing drying cycle. I didn’t need Internet connectivity, silver ions, steam, or stainless steel drums. The money saved could be used for more practical things like better laundry detergent.

    Some features had definite value-add, like the 5 cu.ft washer which could cut my weekly laundry time in half, but it wasn’t worth the premium. That was a Samsung, BTW. But if I’m going to spend a premium on appliances, it better be in a conspicuous location like the kitchen. Or the driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      ChevyIIfan

      And just to show you where that technology has gone since you bought a few years ago, the Consumer Reports highest rated washer (something I do trust them for their ratings on!) has an MSRP of $1200… and you can ALWAYS get it for less than that. We just recently bought their 2nd ranked front load washer, with the steam and stainless tub, etc (not with the internet BS)for $800. We did get a steal on it (scratched).

      BTW, stainless drums are worth the premium– cleaning, odor, durability.

  • avatar
    mvoss

    I think the lanewatch is gimmicky. I thought the blindspot assist is more than enough. To add an actual camera to the mix doesn’t really improve things; it just distinguishes Honda from the others, aka gimmicky.

    Btw, I always use turn signals in my BMW. You should also know that you can click the turn signal to the same direction to turn it off. =P

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Now if I could just get a combo Barcalounger and fridge that could order deliveries by itself, I’d never leave the house.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Doug, I thought your article was an amusing way of making a good point. So, there!

    I’m not sure why people have a problem with substituting a new piece of technology (the camera and display) to do the job of an old piece of technology (the mirror) when it does a better job (which this does). I mean, do folks want to go back to manual spark advance, manual chokes, carburetors and manual mixture adjustments? For certain, getting an engine with one of these devices started and keeping it running required much more operator skill than is required today with ECM. But is the contest how difficult one can make the vehicle to operate, with the prize going to that person who can figure out how to get it going and keep it in motion?

    I never knew that. Outside rear view mirrors get stuff on them, ice and so on, so I’m not sure the camera is any worse and its probably easier to clean a little 10 mm camera lens than a relatively large rear view mirror.

    • 0 avatar

      Bruce – appreciate the kind words. I agree regarding the technology. Some things SHOULD be allowed to soldier on and replace the stuff we already have. (This does not include refrigerators with Twitter.) But, of course, there will always be a resistance to ANY kind of technology.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “I’m not sure why people have a problem with substituting a new piece of technology … when it does a better job”

      I’ll flip this comment around and ask why people are so adamant on adding new technology when it *doesn’t* do a better job, e.g., Twitter on a refrigerator or MyFord Touch in cars. I think the answer is actually closely related to your question.

      It seems a big part of it is a balance between the excitement of shiny & new and the comfort of what’s familiar. Also, I find it rare that people actually think much about what a device really has to do. I’m sure there are many other factors, and I’d certainly like to understand the psychology of it better.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Amen to that. Although I have limited experience with them (only in rentals), I find touchscreen technology used to operate things like cabin temperature and so on to be a definite step backwards, even just operating the radio with these is not so nice.

        But then my DD has the traditional “three-knob” HVAC controls: temperature, outlet choice (floor, dash, windshield) and fan speed. There’s a button to engage the a/c compressor. That setup works better than the automatic system in my Pilot, which overshoots the required temperature substantially until it eventually gets it right.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    Some accord owners have had issues with getting the lane watch dialed in to look at the right part of the road.

  • avatar
    redav

    I’ve had the idea of using cameras instead of mirrors & project the image onto a HUD in the corners of the windshield or on an extension of the center mirror. This would require less eye movement and remove the need for the exterior mirrors which reduces wind noise, drag, and another item to hit in parking lots.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      I wonder what the regulations are on side mirrors. Do cars have to have them, or would cameras be an acceptable substitute? I remember reading recently that several new European cars offer the option of having “smart” bright lights that can see another car coming and block just that part of the light projection that would blind the other driver. US regulations somehow forbid this, however, so we’re stuck with just the high-low option. There may be some other rule preventing manufacturers from removing the actual mirrors and replacing them with cameras.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      It’s the eye movement that worries me. My blind spot monitors are great — the light is at the base of my mirror, so I’m already glancing that way before I change lanes anyway. I can’t imagine the additional information the camera gives you is worth the distraction of looking down. (I already get scared enough when people — especially Atlanta drivers — turn their head for a good two seconds before changing lanes.)

  • avatar
    muffinlordSA

    I wonder how long it’ll be before someone rigs up one of these to record, and we get interesting side-cam footage out of who-knows-where.

  • avatar
    JimothyLite

    Mr. DeMuro, I am deeply offended that you used humor in this post, and that you saturate everything you write with what you think is funny. From now on I’d like your articles to contain just technical details; I want you to sound like a robot. A savant robot.

    Ah, just kidding! That was one of your funniest yet, and it made my day. I read it just after receiving a somewhat nasty note from one of my son’s teachers, who’s trying to understand his autism but isn’t quite there yet. Maybe I’ll send her a link to your writing. Keep up the very good, very funny writing! You have a way of lightening up my day.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “Personally, I’m of the belief that we don’t really need any new technology in the world of turn signals. That’s because every car in the history of the automobile has used pretty much the same system, and it works quite well.”

    This is most certainly not true anymore. Over the last 10 years or so, even mainstream automakers have almost completely ditched the mechanical lever, cancel cams in the columns, hard wired circuitry and flasher relays to operate the turn signals.

    Most vehicles nowadays use bussed communication messages between turn signal input, steering rotation and body control nodes to accomplish turn signal functions. A simplified explanation is that now our vehicles have a turn signal input module that incorporates the lever to which the driver inputs the desired turn indication. The lever is pressed to the double detent which sends a bus message to the BCM to send flash outputs to the signals. The steering rotation information is monitored until an angle threshold is met, then a cancel message is sent over the bus back to the turn signal module which then popps the lever back, emulating the cancel cam that used to be in the column and the BCM stops the flash output upon the same message.

    BMW apparently didn’t see fit to include the lever hold and cancel, but just about everyone else has.

    So we have been consumed by technology in even the smallest functions of our vehicles, whether we realize it or not.

    • 0 avatar
      mvoss

      I think I understood what you said, but when you said “BMW apparently didn’t see fit to include the lever hold and cancel,” you’re referring to holding the lever up to activate the right turn signal until you let go, right? In that case, my Z4 does have that.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wow ~

    Neat article , it made me smile as do most of the replies & comments .

    TOPIC DRIFT :

    I’m about to buy a 32″ Samsung Smart TV , is this a bad thing ? .

    I know bupkis about TV’s or Samsung and wasn’t able to find any bad words about Samsung TV….

    TIA ,

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      can’t help you with the Samsung inquiry, but I would advise getting the next one up (40, 42, whatever) over a 32. My bro and I bought my mum a 32” Sony in spring 2011 and lament not spending the 75 or so bucks to get the 42” for her.

    • 0 avatar

      That depends. Does it have Twitter?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Well, I lost my Samsung TV due to bad capacitors on the power supply.

      To their credit, Samsung paid for the first repair, but the problem still came back a short time later.

      It seems like I wasn’t the only one with this issue. Might have been fixed by now though.

      These days I’m just sticking to my 27-inch wood-grained RCA.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Google “Samsung power board failure” and go with a different brand. It wound up as a class action lawsuit. That many TV’s really DID fail.

      I’m sure the problem is fixed by now, but I’d have a hard time trusting one of their TV’s after that.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        THANK YOU ALL ! .

        I’ll go back to the old standby brand : COBY ~ that one worked fine for a fraction of the price and when it failed I wrote them asking for the local repair place and they simply sent me another for less $ , I happily mailed the check .

        I’m stuck with the 32″ because it’s for the kitchen where the cabinets have *exactly* 18″ clearance , that’s the 32″ wide break point ~ most are 17-1/2″ or 18″ tall .

        Off to Wallymart for me , you alls get back to Car Talk , STILL no new posts from Thomas dammit .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    When I had my Accord coupe, it had a notably bad blind spot. After the 3rd time nearly hitting someone when changing lanes, I forked out a whopping $8 at Pep Boys for a pair of stick-on mirrors. It was simple fool-proof system:

    If I saw a vehicle in the bubble but not in the main mirror, they were in my blind spot.

    It worked for both sides of the car, 100% of the time. So while I’m not against this neat technology, a suitable method can be achieved for a fraction of the cost.

    • 0 avatar
      mvoss

      This is why the camera would be considered a gimmick. It’s an unnecessary piece of technology meant to excite people to buy the car, not by its actual value, but by its perceived value of being cool.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      I was behind either a Cruze or a Spark yesterday, I forget which, that had a convex mirror nicely integrated into the driver’s-side assembly. It could have been aftermarket, but if it was, it was a fantastic job. Seems like a very easy solution.

  • avatar
    redrum

    Am I the only one who just angles his side mirrors outwards to cover the blind spots? Works brilliantly. There’s really no need to have your side mirror pointed at your doors, unless you’re Robert DeNiro in “Heat” and have to look out for guys trying to sneak up and whack you.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Your mirrors should be set to eliminate blind spots. It makes some parking maneuvers a little harder – but you can always reset them.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-to-adjust-your-mirrors-to-avoid-blind-spots

    That being said this technology is nice. People have been doing this on a custom basis for a while now. A read about a guy who put this kind of system in his Dodge Challenger. He actually added a front camera too to help with parking.

    That will absolutely be the way of the future.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Yes, this is the best method to make sure your blind spot is covered by a mirror. You can move your head more towards the center of the car, and adjust your right-hand mirror until it just sees the back of your car. Then you move your head more towards the driver-side window, and do the same with the left-hand mirror. It may require a little bit of tweaking, but you can easily achieve a hand-off from either side mirror to the rear-view and vice versa.

    • 0 avatar
      salguod

      I just came to link to the same article. I’ve used that technique for some 18 years and it eliminates probably 95% of the blind spots.

      That said, a wider field of view would be beneficial and any system that simply lets me see better as opposed to warning beeps or flashing lights or, god forbid, mechanical intervention is a plus.


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