by Mark Ollig
While writing this column during the early pre-dawn hours, I looked out the living room window and noticed it had snowed overnight.
With yard lights shining on the new-fallen snow, it looked as if an enormously white, fluffy blanket was covering the ground.
The branches of the surrounding pine trees also held copious amounts of the white stuff.
I checked the outdoor thermometer, and sighed. “I will need to put on my heavy winter jacket before heading outside into the frozen Minnesota tundra,” I thought.
Of course, being we’re hearty Minnesotans, we are used to going through these “good old-fashioned” winters; however, I am now anxiously awaiting the warmer temperatures of spring.
I took a sip from my coffee mug, and resumed typing.
Last week’s column talked about some of the new products from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, or CES2014.
I viewed the follow-up videos produced by the International CES about this year’s show, and was blown away by some of the numbers.
For example, they reported around 20,000 consumer products were displayed on 2 million net-square-feet of space; equaling some 37 football fields’ worth of technology being exhibited.
The number of people attending the CES2014 from outside the US was impressive: approximately 35,000.
They reported, between Jan. 7 - 10, 150,000 people had attended the CES2014.
The Twitter hashtag, #CES2014, was mentioned over 256,000 times, and was seen by an estimated 2.9 billion online users.
The CES2014 car show floor exhibited examples of wireless Bluetooth technology solutions for connecting various smart devices (such as your tablets or smartphones) to your automobile.
These product solutions included: BluClik, BluStream, InSeam, and Tranzit BLU HF.
I also noted an assortment of high-tech replacement rear-view mirrors.
A display screen on one of these rear-view mirrors allowed a person, when backing up their car, to view the lower hidden area behind their vehicle, via a video camera lens positioned on the back of the car.
This low, hidden area at the rear of an automobile is normally not viewable when using a standard rear-view mirror.
Look for rear-view surveillance camera display systems to be installed as a standard safety feature in future car models.
I have come to appreciate the rear-view surveillance camera and display screen in my new car – it makes me feel a lot safer knowing what is directly behind my automobile when backing up.
It’s also a great assist when parking the car, too.
CES2014 also exhibited vehicle dashboard video recording cameras, known as “dashcams.” These devices record what you see while you are driving your car.
Dashcams can be surface- mounted, or discreetly installed high on the inside windshield, right behind the rear-view mirror.
There are forward-window- facing dashcams, and other models with wider viewing angles.
There are models which provide excellent video quality during the day and night.
Dashcams can also operate 24 hours a day.
Many dashcam systems use loop recording, which means if the video storage disk runs out of space, new video will begin recording over the oldest video files, allowing the dashcam to record for an indefinite period.
Video from the dashcam can be watched on a smartphone or smartdevice via Wi-Fi, or a cellular data connection.
Some dashcam systems can stream their video live to the Internet, where it can be stored in a cloud server and/or viewed live.
Having a dashcam installed would certainly be of benefit, especially if one is ever involved in a car accident; you could use the dashcam’s video to see what happened, and possibly to prove who was at fault.
Another benefit would be having video proof of the person(s) who vandalized your car while it was parked.
People also have dashcams installed for recording any suspicious activity occurring in the area where their car is located.
Some folks use dashcams as a video road diary for recording and narrating long, scenic road trips.
Oh, and how about using a dashcam to record those zealous, preoccupied road-raged drivers who are always in a hurry, and scream at anyone who makes eye contact with them.
To watch some of these road-rage dashcam videos, just do a YouTube search on “road rage driver” and you’ll keep yourself entertained for hours.
Many uploaded dashcam videos to YouTube have become popular, some have even gone viral.
For example, we would not have seen the huge, bright, exploding meteor streaking across the skies of Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013, if not for the dashcam video recordings provided by the Russian drivers who were in the right place at the right time.
I expect more people in this country to be installing dashcams in their automobiles; you never know – your dashcam might someday record the “no one would believe it” flying saucer hovering silently in the sky.
DVR (digital video recorder) dashcams normally range from $50 to $400.
To view the YouTube dashcam video of the spectacular meteor flashing across the sky in Chelyabinsk, go to: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-meteor1.
Next year’s CES2015 event will take place Jan. 6 - 9 in Las Vegas.