Monday, December 1, 2008

RF/microwave in Cars

The Auto show is coming to Boston this week, so I am excited to make my annual visit to this event. We get a group together each year and spend several hours salivating over the new cars (especially the exotics) and then have a nice Italian dinner in the north end. Every year I look for more RF and microwave products in cars but hope the severe down turn in the industry does not effect what we will see too much (I am not counting on getting any giveaways this year).

RFID is available on the new Ford F150 as an optional package to tag your important tools (or other items) and it will tell you if you are missing anything before you leave the job site. I hope to see this in action at the show.

While long range radar sensors have been in the Mercedes for years functioning as auto cruise control (77 GHz), I think 2009 will be the year that short range sensors (24 GHz) are integrated into the bumpers for several safety and assist functions such as blind spot detection, parking assist, collision warning, etc. (For more information, see our Dec 2007 article on auto sensors). It will be interesting to see how radar sensors do against laser and ultrasonic sensors.

There is also a lot of buzz lately about mobile TV being developed for automobiles so it will be fun to see if there is any news on this front. The integration of voice, data and GPS mapping is progressing quickly and some companies offer real time traffic information and automatic routing via GPS. This will lead us toward what has been talked about for years in intelligent traffic control systems.

My favorite option on my car now is the Bluetooth hands-free phone system and it will be interesting to see what other applications can use Bluetooth technology. I love the Microsoft Sync system currently available in some Ford models but unfortunately, bought another brand. It should be an interesting future for wireless in automobiles but certainly tempered by the economic woes of the industry.

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