Chrysler Uconnect Access: When the new generation of Uconnect arrived in the 2013 Ram 1500, Technology of the Year judges began chattering on AOL’s instant-messaging system about how easy it was to use, improving on what was already a pretty good system. Uconnect Access offers one-button emergency assistance, voice-controlled texting, the ability to monitor a vehicle’s performance, a smartphone app that allows locked doors to be opened when keys are locked inside and headlights to be flashed in a crowded parking place if drivers lose track of where they’ve parked. There is an on-demand wireless hot-spot. The Bing-powered search app is voice-activated and helps find points of interest, specific destinations, restaurants, gas, etc. And it all worked smoothly for our judges.
MyFord Mobile: Controlling our cars, houses and lives through smartphone apps is becoming more and more common. And one of the best we have seen is MyFord Mobile, which launched with the new Ford Focus Electric. One of the Technology of the Year judges experienced one of the benefits when he locked keys in the car, and was able to unlock the doors with his phone. With the Ford Focus Electric, the app also allows the driver/owner to view the EV’s remaining battery charge, control charging (this may be set to charge automatically during the cheapest utility-rate hours), remotely operate and set timers for the climate control, plan trips that get sent to the navigation system, and find charging stations.
In the category of active safety, the two finalists are:Nissan Tire Pressure Alert & Refill System: Sometimes a car company hits a homerun by swinging soft and easy, and not exactly trying to hit it over the fence. That’s what Nissan did in the 2012 Altima redesign when it spent a few dollars to improve something that most companies took for granted. Not only does the system tell drivers specifically which tire on the car is low and in need of air—a breakthrough compared with most vehicles that just indicates one of the four tires is low. But when the tires are being inflated, the car-horn gives off a quick burst when the tire has arrived at the proper air pressure. It was no doubt inspired by the old air pumps of yesteryear in which a driver set the air pressure desired and the pump would give off a “ding” when reached. Simple can be great. Honda LaneWatch™: Technology of the Year judges said that while we have seen lane-watching systems come out the last few years, Honda really nailed it with its LaneWatch system that debuted on the 2013 Honda Accord sedan. A tiny camera on the passenger –side mirror can be manually or automatically activated when the right indicator is engaged. Live video then displays on the i-MID screen, and it provides a view nearly four times greater than using the passenger-side mirror alone. Among the Technology of the Year judges are AOL Autos editor-in-chief David Kiley; Autoblog editor-in-chief John Neff; Engadget editor-in-chief Tim Stevens; AOL Autos senior editor Sharon Silke Carty; Autoblog executive editor Chris Paukert; Engadget mobile editor Myriam Joire; AOL Autos contributor Lauren (The Car Coach) Fix; and Nest CEO (and former Apple iPod development chief) Tony Fadell.