Toys and Gadgets
I got my love of cars from my dad. He’d get bored with his car so every year he’d bring home a new one. It would be done without fuss or ceremony. One night he’d simply return home from the office in a new car. To humor my dad, my mom would usher the kids out to the car so we could ooh and aah for a few minutes and then we’d be herded back inside.
Being the cheeky baby, I’d always sneak out later in the evening, sit on the driver’s side, take in the sights and inhale the new car smell. And of course I’d maniacally play with the gadgets and twist the knobs in the car – come to think of it I wonder if my dad ever figured out why the radio always played static as opposed to the station that he had left it on. I know, as mischief goes, this isn’t all that bad but those were simpler times…
My love affair with cars has outlasted many of my other relationships such as my love of shoulder pads in the 80s (and we can all safely say thank goodness for that). I still remember the joy I experienced when driving my first car – a little banger my parents gave me to shuttle myself back/forth from school and which I took to Disneyland with my high school friends despite being forbidden to drive on the freeway. Oops… sorry mom. The first new car I bought with my own money, my first 4-wheel drive mischief maker, my first rag top… These cars were moveable sensory feasts laden with gadgets.
Of course in terms of gadgetry if you compare my Mini Cooper with my first car, a Toyota Celica, the Mini is from a different planet. The Celica had an AM radio, no power steering and well not much of anything but 4 wheels. In contrast, the Mini has satellite radio, USB ports, sat nav, a CD player (I know so very last century), Bluetooth and an onboard computer telling me all sorts of stuff I never thought I’d need to know. It has so many lights flashing data at me that sometimes when the bell goes off I have to look around the dashboard like a mad woman to see if this is something that I should worry about (running low on gas/petrol) or something that is purely informational (the temperature has dipped below 35 degrees, urm, thanks for telling me it’s cold outside because the icicles outside were not sufficient enough to tell me that).
Gadgets in cars are the chocolate sprinkles on top of ice cream – you can still eat ice cream without the sprinkles but it is soooo much better with it. So when I came across an article where the writer had interviewed 6 industry experts about the next big feature or trend in automotive infotainment my pulse started racing. Who wouldn’t want to know what new gadgetry the next generation cars would have?
While nothing they said was earth shattering (connectivity seems to be the hands down winner which would of course make it easy for Google or Facebook to serve ads to us in our cars in the not too distant future – the last bastion of advertising-free space) it was reassuring to see that we’ll have a lot of toys to entertain ourselves with as we sit in stop-and-go traffic. By the way if you’re curious to see what the experts envision, here’s the link to the article .
Of course none of this technology just appears out of the blue. Usually a bright engineer working in the automotive industry gets inspired to create or improve an existing gadget in our cars. And after a few years of sweat and hard work, they give us new toys which we can not live without.
Because of my job I meet many such bright individuals including Dr. Uwe Lautenschlager. Dr. Lautenschlager is the Senior Specialist Simulation at Continental Automotive GmbH. Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers in the world. They supply brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, vehicle electronics and infotainment solutions among many other products.
Thermal simulation is pretty important at Continental – they only ship car systems after subjecting their designs to thermal simulation. The process is actually quite fascinating and Dr. Lautenschlager shed some light on the process of thermal simulation within Continental during a recent presentation. If you’d like to watch the presentation please follow this link.
I don’t know about you but often after hearing someone talk about their processes or projects I get a flash of inspiration to solve one of my own problems. So if you are designing electronics components or gadgetry I would strongly recommend that you watch this presentation. Considering that now 50% of a car’s bill of goods is electronics related, then chances are that you are already dealing with a tricky thermal problem so who knows… you might even be inspired to find a solution to one of your problems.
Until next time,