Car gadgets & features: practical innovations

  • Author: GILES KIRKLAND

At their core, all cars use the same technology to move and be driven. However, when you look away from the engines, suspension and, yes, even the car tyres, what are the more unique features found on various vehicles today?

In an age ruled by electronic gadgets, innovation is always present. It’s no surprise then, that many car manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to offer some extra gadgets and final touches in their vehicles. Some of these offer additional safety, while offers add a little extra practicality (and maybe even some luxury). Here are some of the best features found in modern car design.

BMW Brake Dryers

Dry brakes are the best at ensuring a sufficient stop, but how do you keep your brake discs dry in wet conditions? Excessive braking can often prove in efficient when it is raining, as the water reduces the ability to generate friction.

brake-dryers

Brake drying helps brakes perform better in wet conditions.

BMW, however, gets around this by offering a brake drying system. By moving the pads closer to the rotors, excess water can be easily removed. Many BMW cars do this intermittently, ensuring that the brakes are still ready to be used whenever you need them.

Nissan Easy Fill Tyre Alert

As the name suggests, the Nissan Easy Fill Tyre Alert is designed to make even easier to get the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle. Normally, drivers have to pump the air up in their tyres before checking if the levels are correct with a sensor. If they are too high or too low, this can involve a lot of readjusting to get the right amount of pressure inside.
 
Introduced in 2013 on a number of Nissan cars, these vehicles can detect when air is being introduced, indicating via their external lights, and will sound off (via the horn) to indicate when the desired target pressure has been reached.

360 Degree Tyres

Okay, technically this is cheating a little, since these tyres are only in a developmental stage, but the idea is still worth mentioning. Last year, Goodyear tyres unveiled its tyre design for autonomous, smart cars. These Eagle 360 degree tyres employ a spherical shape and use maglev technology to ensure full, complete revolutions in any direction.

Could 360 degree tyres appear in the future? Source: Goodyear.

While purely hypothetical at this stage, spherical tyres open up a new range of possibilities. The ability to move in any direction makes certain driving maneuvers easier to accomplish. Instead of parallel parking, for instance, your car can move along a side axis, sliding directly into position.

HUD (Heads Up Display)

When driving, keeping your eyes on the road is vital. Many drivers would argue that many of the in-car features, such as dashboard notifications et al, cause your eyesight to move away from the road.
 
A heads up display, then, makes perfect sense. By bouncing light onto the windscreen itself, you can see vital information without having being distracted. Better yet, some companies are experimenting with holographic displays and augmented reality, so your HUD can potentially highlight important areas of the road or notify you of things you might not have noticed.

Lane Assist

Thanks to the abundant sensors and cameras found in modern cars, lane assist features are becoming more commonplace. Found in popular models, such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion, these features detect when a car is crossing over a lane, notifying the driver to adjust the car accordingly. It might not be used that often, but this feature can help prevent accidents and ensure you stay in the right lane at all times.

lane-assist

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Seats That Improve Driving

Exhaustion and posture are both important elements of driving. Regardless of your driving style, your body should be prepared for the physical task of operating a vehicle. Fortunately, this is something many manufacturers are aware of.
 
Nissa, for example, have developed ‘zero-gravity seats’ in a partnership with NASA. These seats help to provide a more weightless sensation and reduce the feeling of fatigue, to support drivers on longer trips.
 
Other manufacturers have included massage chairs in their cars. These are designed to destress and reinvigorate the muscles, keeping the driver active and engaged when they might otherwise start to feel tired.
 
Of course, this is just a look at some of the more recent innovations and car gadgets. This has been a long tradition in the automotive industry, from ashtrays and umbrella compartments (perfectly useful in the British weather) to the current rise of smart cars and connected vehicles.

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