Extra information when driving can be useful, but also distracting. Enter BMW's new M Performance sport steering wheel -- which offers a whole bunch of data and information while letting you keep your eyes (mostly) on the road. Essentially it's a high-grip Alcantara wheel, with a small OLED display at 12 o'clock, and two LED meters on either side. There are three readout modes: EfficientDynamics, Sport and Race. The former will tell you average fuel consumption, speed as well as oil and water temperature. Sport mode will tell you lateral g-force data (that cleverly remains on the display until you bring the wheel back to its neutral position) while the LED strips provide cues for gear shifts. Like to take things out on the track? Lap times, with section splits, and even a drag-style Christmas tree mode will help you get those times down. How much for this king of steering wheels? A racy $1,700. Speed past the break for a video of the goods in action.
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Nokia has only ever had a fleeting involvement with cars, but if it brings a just-published patent application to fruition, the Lumia maker could be front and center for drivers. The technology it wants would detect vibrations in the steering wheel to let the driver control music, GPS and other components of the car's center stack just by touching particular spots on the wheel itself -- no overabundance of buttons here. Underneath, it would use temporal sensing to register input, and filtering would prevent the wheel from interpreting speed bumps as cues to turn on the stereo. Nokia's mobile know-how mostly comes into play through the option of using a mobile device like a smartphone to handle tasks rather than having to build something directly into the wheel. Given that the company is currently cutting everything back, it's more likely to license the patent out rather than trying to build anything itself, if anything happens at all. Should the patent eventually come to use, you could end up tenderly caressing the wheel for all your in-car media controls... just be sure to buy it some chocolate and roses first.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Most simulators act in isolation from the real world, so when we see one that breaks out of its virtual shell, we're more than a little intrigued. Saginomiya has designed a driving simulator that's directly linked to an actual car's components sitting on a six-axis motion system. The whole affair works as a form of virtuous circle for testing, where the real parts feed on the simulator and vice versa: since the simulator is based on the internal model of the car, it can translate road results directly to the suspension and steering of the physical components, which promptly loop around and dictate force feedback in the simulator through actuators in the steering wheel. Apart from creating what amounts to the real real driving simulator, Saginomiya's invention is a huge boon to automakers, which can test how key components work without having to build the whole vehicle first. Sadly, the simulator likely won't reach full-on Avatar levels and steer a car on a real road anytime soon, but it's engaging enough that we can see more than a few test drivers putting in overtime just for kicks.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Around these parts, we're generally suckers for all things related to racing simulators. As such, we're excited to learn that Fanatec has unveiled its next generation of the Clubsport pedals that we reviewed over a year ago. Dubbed as the Clubsport pedals V2, the company refers to the peripheral as an "evolutionary" update to original, offering a trio of improvements. The clutch has been retooled to have a "regressive feel" that's said to be similar to a real automobile, while the brake is now of the hydraulic variety, featuring user replaceable synthetic oil -- naturally, it still has an adjustable spring and load cell pressure sensor for the utmost customizability. The final touch is merely some visual spice in the way of black anodization. Notably, there won't be any tuning kit available initially, and V1 owners might be disappointed to know that the company has opted not to offer an upgrade kit, citing costs and potentially complicated installation. Fanatec is aiming to have the Clubsport pedals V2 out by June, bundled alongside its Clubsport wheel, with pricing set at $250 for the US (€250 in the UK). Pre-orders won't begin until May, so in the meantime, shift over to the source link below and the video past the break for all the details.
Gallery: Fanatec Clubsport pedals V2
We're not done with the AT&T prototypes yet. After putting our rears in the seat of a Porsche 911 and turning our questionable English into even more questionable Spanish, Ma Bell gave us a glimpse at some super rough devices fresh from the labs. The first one we got our hands on, really didn't need us to put our hands on it. ShadowPuppets sticks a webcam to a pico projector (literally... with gaffers tape) to create a touchless "multitouch" interface for your phone. Rather than have friends gather around your tiny iPhone display or force a person to awkwardly reach across you and tap on your handset, this concept lets anyone simply cast shadows to control the interface. It's not terribly dissimilar from a number of other projects out there, except it's specifically geared at turning smartphone interaction into a social experience. The demo required the assistance of an Alienware laptop, and the pinch to zoom function was a little wonky to say the least. Still, it was pretty easy to see how this might prove useful in daily life.
Gallery: AT&T Labs prototype hands-on
The other concept on hand was the haptic feedback steering wheel the company dreamed up with help from Carnegie Mellon. While the research may sound compelling, the device it self couldn't be any rougher around the edges... literally. The design consisted of roughly cut chunks of foam taped (this time with packing tape, we believe) haphazardly to a game controller. On each piece of foam was a tiny vibrating actuator connected to an Arduino that dangled below in a vaguely menacing tangle of cables. The sensation as the vibrations travel in circular patterns (clockwise to indicate a right turn, counter clockwise for left), was strange to say the least. But, as the cycles sped up and the turn approached we grew less uncomfortable with the feeling of a vibrating steering wheel. And we actually found the increasing tempo an easier way to discern when a turn was approaching than hearing a robotic voice shout out, "turn left in 500 feet." Check out the gallery above for some not so glamorous shots of the future of tech.Permalink | | Email this | Comments