Circle Auto Protect Blog

The Best Gadgets to Make Your Car Smarter

Aug 13, 2019
Michael Robinson


We are spending an increasing amount of time in our cars in 2019; drivers in most American cities have seen a frustrating uptick in the number of hours they spend commuting each week which has resulted in a decline in productivity. For many people, the hours they spend stuck in gridlock each week with millions of other drivers has forced them to begin their workday earlier, and extend their office time as they drive home, responding to phone calls, texting (a practice we discourage), and writing emails. Luxury automakers jumped on the smart gadget bandwagon as soon as it became clear that the smartphone could be utilized as a work and media hub in the car; offering “technology” packages at a premium which include navigation, voice assist, wireless charging, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity.
 
But what about the average consumer who can’t afford a luxury automobile or optional “connectivity” packages that can add thousands of dollars to the price of a car? Automakers have become cognizant to the reality that consumers have hundreds of choices when it comes to buying an SUV, truck, or car – offering some wireless technology as standard features on their vehicles, but unless that help makes the driving experience safer, more efficient, and productive, consumers are really no better off.
 
Cars become messy very quickly; sticky cup holders, dirty backseats from transporting children, and multiple cables fighting for the limited number of USB ports that seemingly only have enough power for certain types of devices.
 
Fortunately for consumers, there are a number of affordable, and mid-range accessories available today; including many that connect with apps that can turn your car into a much smarter platform – even one that can help run your home as you waste endless hours of your life memorizing the motto of all fifty states.


 
Alexa…Is My Garage Door Open?
 
Smart home technology is the fastest-growing category in consumer electronics; and voice assistant applications like Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are driving a lot of this growth. With so many consumers using a voice assistant platform to select music, order pizza for the kids, get directions, or send a message to a co-worker, automakers have begun to integrate the technology into their cars. But what is your option, if you use Alexa and you don’t own a Lexus, BMW, or Ford?
 
Anker Roav Viva
 
Anker has made great in-roads in the past few years offering connectivity accessories, and their affordable Roav Viva adapter offers both Alexa connectivity and two additional PowerIQ USB charging ports. You simply plug the device into your cigarette lighter and it connects to your car’s audio system via Bluetooth. By making it compatible with Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps, the Roav Viva makes it harder to get lost. You can also connect to your smart devices at home through Alexa – just in case you were concerned the garage door was still open.
 
No Charging Cable?
 
There is nothing more frustrating than leaving home with a smartphone that isn’t fully charged. The battery always seems to die at the worst possible time (especially if you are calling in to a meeting from the car), like an emergency. The second worst feeling is when you rush out of the house with the aforementioned phone and no cable to charge it. Wireless charging has become a very popular feature for consumers; simply place your phone on the surface and let technology do its thing. That all sounds fantastic until you realize that your car doesn’t offer the feature, or that it’s not compatible with your specific phone.
 
Vanmass Wireless Car Charger
 
If you need to mount your smartphone to a surface on your dashboard giving you access, and also want the ability to wirelessly charge your phone, the $36 charger from Vanmass is a godsend. The Vanmass Car Charger is compatible with models ranging from 4-6.5” and works with both iOS and Android-based phones. The unit is designed to be flexible and can be positioned in multiple ways.
 
Why is My Tire Sensor Always On?
 
The tire sensor on your car is one of its most important safety features. When it illuminates, it alerts you to the reality that your tire pressure is low, or that you are about to experience a flat. Neither scenario is a good one. The tire sensor is also one of the items that malfunctions most frequently on your car and we have made more than a few trips to our local dealer to discover that our tires were fine – it was just a broken sensor. Is there a more reliable way to stay alert to this potential issue? Can you even monitor it from your phone?
 
FOBO Tire Plus
 
The  Fobo Tire Plus is not an inexpensive accessory at $180; and don’t forget to remove them when you go to the car wash, but a set of 4 Bluetooth-enabled tire pressure sensors that send information to your smartphone is pretty invaluable. The one complaint about the Tire Plus from some users is that the sensors’ readings are sometimes off by +/- 1psi (when you compare to a manual tire pressure gauge).
 
We Live in That Kind of World
 
Dashcams have become more popular with consumers as a method of recording accidents, and incidents of road rage. The ability to record clear video that you might need in a court case or to help the police has become a part of daily life on the roads. But not all dash cams can record in HD, begin recording automatically when triggered or create a GPS log. These are all mandatory features to justify the large expenditure.
 
Garmin Dash Cam 55
 
The $155 Garmin Dash Cam 55 is a compact, and well-built device that delivers a better experience than most similar products. With higher-end optics that can record in 1080p HD, an automatic trigger, and GPS-verification, the Garmin does it all. The ability to use voice commands, take photographs and video in low-light situations, and keep it relatively hidden due to its size makes it a no-brainer if local laws permit its use.
 


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