AR car buying

See your new car on your driveway BEFORE you buy it

AR car buying

New technology will allow you to see what your new car looks like on your driveway before you’ve bought it.

A finance company is trialling the use of the Apple iPhone’s augmented reality (AR) feature. With it, car buyers can view 3D and true-to-scale car models parked on their driveway or in a parking space.

If you’re familiar with Pokemon Go, you’ll understand how it works.

Most car buyers will be able to access AR through platforms such as Safari and Messages without the need for specific apps. If you don’t like the way the car looks outside your house, you can try something different.

Creditplus says “it hopes that customers will be more satisfied with their choice of car”. 

This is only one example of how AR is helping to shape the car industry. The likes of Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Genesis are introducing AR-based navigation systems to their flagship models. When in use, the guidance systems give the driver a live camera view of the road ahead.

Google is also rolling out AR walking directions in Maps.

AR car manual

Some car dealerships are also experimenting with AR. For example, a salesperson can use AR on an iPad to show people how options and accessories could change the look of their new car. This could include exterior colours, interior trim and alloy wheels.

Land Rover has used the tech to good effect on the Velar, while Hyundai’s sales team have used iPads to showcase the features of the latest i30. This article also outlines how AR can be utilised to help owners with everything from basic car maintenance to taking their car on a virtual track day.

The Renault Morphoz, which was due to be unveiled at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, previews a number of autonomous and shareable features that are likely to become mainstream in the future. For example, the car accepts user profiles from smartphones, including an AR screen overlay for the driver.


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Self-driving car

1 in 10 vehicles ‘will be self-driving’ by 2030

Self-driving car

Fully automated cars are expected to contribute some 13.7 billion U.S. dollars by 2030. One in ten vehicles will be self-driving by then.”

That’s quite a claim. Within a decade, 10 percent of vehicles will be self-driving globally. TEN PERCENT.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s car count is likely to hit roughly two billion somewhere in the 2035 to 2040 window. So that’s 200 million self-driving cars and rising. Give or take a few million, that’s a lot of self-driving cars, not to mention a major shift in driving culture and the supporting infrastructure.

Statista, the organisation behind the claim, provides a major caveat. “Clearly, the market growth depends on the speed of consumer acceptance and the manufacturers’ ability to scale up production,” it says.

“Many consumers see attacks from hackers as the main barrier to autonomous vehicle adoption. Almost four out of five consumers do not trust self-driving cars to provide enough vehicle security. More than 70 percent of consumers do not think driverless vehicle systems will be safe from hackers.”

There are a lot of hurdles and obstacles to clear in a decade. In just four sentences, Statista references consumer acceptance, production and security as three barriers to the success of the self-driving car.

‘Expected to reach new heights’

Volvo and Uber partner on autonomous cars

Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive, is sceptical. “There’s several hundred thousand dollars of technology in each of these vehicles,” he said. “I don’t see private ownership of self-driving cars happening for the foreseeable future.”

However, Brauer shares Statista’s view that robo-taxis could replace taxis and ride-sharing vehicles in towns and cities. Statista says driverless taxis are expected to contribute some 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030, making it the top application for fully autonomous technology.

The technology isn’t restricted to terra firma. Last month, Hyundai and Uber unveiled a ride-sharing air taxi, with plans to make it a fully autonomous solution to urban congestion. It could take flight as early as 2023, although self-piloting versions are expected to arrive much later.

A recent report by Transparency Market Research (TMR) shows that the robo-taxi market is growing rapidly at a value Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 58 percent. “The adoption of robo-taxis is expected to reach new heights in the coming years,” it says.

The report also points to the market drivers fuelling the growth of the self-driving car market. One is the rising demand for roadside safety of the drivers and passengers, with TMR pointing to the fact that 90 percent of accidents are the result of human error. Among these accidents, 50 percent have proven to be fatal.

Whether or not motorists are ready to put their trust in self-driving cars remains to be seen. If not, the ‘one in 10’ claim seems wildly optimistic.


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CarKey coming to iPhone and Apple Watch

Phone CarKey is coming to iPhone and Apple Watch

CarKey coming to iPhone and Apple Watch

The Apple CarKey is coming – and motorists will soon be able to lock and unlock their car using an iPhone or Apple Watch. 

This is according to 9to5Mac, which says it has found evidence of a ‘CarKey‘ feature in the beta version of the iOS 13.4 software update.

The website says iOS 13.4 contains references to a CarKey API, which will enable the iPhone or Apple Watch to lock, unlock and even start a car.

Apple released the first developer beta of iOS 13.4 on Wednesday. Along with the CarKey function, the update is expected to add support for new call controls and third-party navigation in Apple CarPlay. There are also nine new Memoji sticker types. Because the world needs more Memoji stickers.

The concept of a digital key is nothing new. In 2017, Volvo became the first manufacturer to offer an app for a mobile phone to replace a physical key with a digital version. Using the Bluetooth-enabled digital key, Volvo owners can lock and unlock the doors or boot, as well as starting the engine.

Tesla Model 3 owners can use a feature called Phone Key, which does exactly what it says. With Bluetooth enabled, the car will unlock as the owner approaches and then be ready to start as normal. Previously, Tesla has recommended using it as the ‘primary method of accessing and starting your vehicle’.

There’s plenty of online evidence to suggest the company has shifted its stance a little.

‘Why put your key in the ignition?’

BMW digital key

Meanwhile, BMW asks: ‘Why put your key in the ignition if you have your smartphone with you?’ The Digital Key can be downloaded to an Android smartphone using the BMW Connected app and shared with family and friends.

Note the reference to Android. News of Apple’s move into the world of the smartphone car key will be music to the ears of BMW owners who have been unable to use such a feature with their iPhone or Apple Watch.

The Apple CarKey will only work with cars that are capable of using near field communications (NFC) which require a fob to start or unlock. 9to5Mac says Apple is ‘already working with some car manufacturers to implement CarKey,’ but it doesn’t say which ones.

It will be a while before Apple users can use the CarKey. In an age when keyless car theft is on the rise, some people might prefer it if the feature doesn’t make it beyond the beta stage… 

Renault owners can control their home from the car

Renault owners can control their home from the car

Owners of selected Renault cars can now control various objects of their home from inside their car.

New cars equipped with the latest Easy Link connected system will offer the service, which uses technology developed by Otodo, a French company specialising in smart homes.

As well as controlling household items, Renault owners will be able to send instructions from their home to a connected vehicle via a smartphone or connected speaker.

There are two available scenarios, with different instructions associated with each. These are:

  • Leaving Home – puts the home into ‘sleep’ mode. This could include switching the central heating to energy-saving mode, closing the shutters and turning off the lights
  • Arriving Home – ‘wakes’ the home. Drivers will be prompted to activate the scenarios based on the distance between the vehicle and home

Users must press ‘OK’ on the Renault’s touchscreen to activate a scenario. The instructions are sent to the home automatically and simultaneously.

Renault home tech a ‘trailblazing experience’

Renault Easy Link connected home

Jean-Francois Labal, marketing and partnership head for connected cars and services at Groupe Renault, said: “Cars need to blend into our digital lives. With this service, we’re offering our customers a trailblazing experience and a completely secure system to connect their home’s connected objects to their vehicle.

“The interface to set it up is very intuitive and it comes with two advantages: it’s automatic so it makes life simpler and it saves energy by switching lights and heating on and off as needed.”

Eric Denoyer, CEO at Otodo, added: “Our platform has enabled Groupe Renault to create a simple and universal link between smart cars and smart homes, that works across brands and technologies. Very soon, everyone will be able to use this platform to organise their daily life from their car.”

The connected technology will be previewed at CES Las Vegas from 7 to 10 January, before rolling out on the all-new Clio, Captur and Zoe electric car later in 2020.

How the AA will find you using three short words

AA is using What3Words

A leading breakdown organisation has partnered with What3Words to make it easier to locate stricken motorists.

The technology divides the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares – each one given a unique What3Words address.

For example, ‘Audit.Twins.Cute’ takes you to a precise spot on the M6 motorway. Meanwhile, Wembley Stadium is ‘Fuzzy.Icon.Driver’.

Silverstone circuit? That’ll be ‘Joints.Muddle.Cyber’.

AA customers who break down can now give the operator their exact What3Words address when calling for help.

The What3Words app is available to download for free for iOS and Android smartphones, or via the online map at

The system should be useful if you’re not 100 percent sure where you have broken down, or for duplicate addresses. What3Words has placed similar sounding addresses far apart, and homophones (words with the same pronunciation but different meanings) have been removed to avoid confusion.

If you break down in a rural location, you can guide the recovery truck straight to the car, rather than describing the spot as ‘somewhere between two villages’.

‘Strange but smart’

AA teams up with What3Words

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Breaking down in an unfamiliar location can be a daunting experience for anyone. This simple solution helps drivers to identify where they are – and helps us find them even faster.

“By using the latest technology we are continuing to enhance our services. Using three everyday words might seem strange but is a smart way to get you back on the road.”

Chris Sheldrick, CEO and co-founder of What3Words added: “Earlier this year, What3words was rolled out by emergency services across the country. One of the key areas that our system proved invaluable was on long stretches of motorways and unnamed rural roads.

“These locations can be incredibly difficult to describe and when responding quickly is crucial to keep people safe, the precision and ease of three words can save vital time in locating someone in need of help. The AA have been quick to see this same benefit, ensuring that their control rooms are trained to use What3Words to locate callers and dispatch help exactly where it’s needed.“


Is new car tech useful

Opinion: Does new car technology really make our lives easier?

Is new car tech useful

When car technology makes the national news, it’s rarely attached to a positive story. The release last week of footage featuring a new luxury car being stolen with ease, due to its keyless entry system, will have caused pangs of worry for those with similar cars. And although news of the ‘relay theft’ method had been raised previously, seeing it occur on video makes it much more real.

Before this came to light, paranoia as to whether the keyless system automatically locked the car when walking away was possibly the biggest security concern. Not anymore. Modern convenience features like keyless entry are meant to make life easier, but the fear of your car being stolen without criminals even needing the physical keys starts places a question mark over the benefits.

Yes, it might be useful for your car to automatically unlock as you approach – and do the same as you leave – but was a momentary ‘blip’ with a key fob causing consumers such undue hardship? Oh, and there’s also the issue of where to put the typically huge key, in a car now without a receptacle for it.

So while a traditional central-locking key might have been mildly inconvenient, at least it didn’t allow criminals to quietly remove your car from your drive. Or leave a questionable bulge in your pocket.

A touchy subject

Is new car tech useful

The widespread adoption of touchscreen multimedia systems has allowed manufacturers to cram controls for multiple systems into one place. It’s eliminated the need for countless buttons, letting designers create impressively minimalist interiors. But they cause multiple challenges for drivers.

Combine a modern vehicle featuring stiff ‘sporty’ suspension with a touchscreen system, and changing settings becomes more akin to ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ than a seamless user experience. It’s notable that although controllers like BMW’s iDrive were derided when new, they are often still the preferred solution in premium machines – offering the benefit of direct feedback between driver and car.

Voice command is mooted as a solution to fiddling with buttons or scrolling through touchscreens or media menus. And the latest systems have progressed a long way, with the ability to recognise and learn individual accents.

Yet voice commands are still far from infallible, and often add multiple steps to confirm even simple actions, making them less efficient than using steering wheel-mounted controls or dashboard buttons. It risks being a gimmick that drivers might try once, then never use again.

Conversely, our love for – and reliance on – satellite navigation may become a distracting obsession. A number of high-profile accidents, caused by drivers either paying too much attention to sat nav units, or slavishly following them into danger, demonstrates the pitfalls. That the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency has felt the need to update the driving test to include taking direction from sat navs also illustrates the importance of the issue.

It might also show how slowly the wheels of bureaucracy turn, given that standalone sat navs, like those included in the driving test, are becoming obsolete due to smartphone-based apps. Whatever type of sat nav is used, it has arguably made visiting new destinations simpler, even if it has created other problems as a result.

Sensitivity training

Unintended consequences have also created new cars reliant on parking sensors and cameras, as modern vehicle designs create blind spots and hamper visibility. With protruding noses to meet crash-test requirements, plus pillar-box-like rear windows as a by-product of sweeping rooflines, cameras and sensors are almost mandatory for manoeuvring many new cars.

This might well be a successful case of using technology to solve a new problem. Nevertheless, it makes drivers reliant on features to undertake basic tasks that millions managed unaided for decades.

Internet of things

Tesla has been praised for the use of over-the-air software updates, meaning tweaks and changes can be made to cars without the need to visit a dealership. This has even included adding an ‘Insane mode’ to performance versions, but also other operating system tweaks such as updating maps – or even the range of adjustment on the headrests.

It again marks Tesla out as having more in common with a tech company, rather than traditional car manufacturer. Using over-the-air updates will be familiar to anyone who owns a smartphone, even if it does bring an inevitable lack of familiarity when a new operating system changes things overnight.

The practicality of fixing flaws and problems without needing to take a car to a dealership is unquestionably a benefit. However, it also opens the possibility for companies to dishonestly cover their tracks. Imagine a ‘dieselgate’ situation, where purely over-the-air software changes could have been used to make all cars compliant with legislation, and the temptation becomes apparent.

The march of new car technology is not going to stop, and the rise of autonomous abilities will make future cars ever more complicated. In itself, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and a self-driving destiny has the potential to make commuting and city driving substantially easier.

However, engineers, designers and marketing staff need to ensure they put making the lives of those buying cars easier and safer as priorities. Pointless gimmicks, or technology that is fatally flawed, will do little to make buyers ready to trust their car with more advanced driving tasks – including actually chauffeuring them around.

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Apple announces 'do not disturb' driving mode for iPhone

Apple announces 'do not disturb' driving mode for iPhone

Apple has announced a feature which will automatically block all notifications when you’re driving – and can even text your friends to tell them you’re busy.

Revealed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California, the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature monitors the speed you’re travelling at and whether it’s connected to a car’s infotainment system to determine whether you’re at the wheel.

More Apple news on Motoring Research: 

If it thinks you’re driving, all notifications will be temporarily blocked and an automatic response – already set up in your settings – will be sent to anyone who texts during this time. If that person really needs to get through to you, they can respond to the auto-response with the word ‘urgent’ and a one-off notification will be allowed through.

Naturally, it’s difficult for the iPhone to tell if its owner is driving or just a passenger in a car. It’s possible for the mode to over overruled by pressing an ‘I’m not driving’ button.

The feature will be rolled out across all iPhones with the iOS 11 operating system when it arrives later this year.

It follows a number of cases in North America where motorists injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers have filed law suits against Apple.

How to modernise your old car

How to modernise your old car

How to modernise your old carThinking of splashing out on a new car to enjoy the latest tech – think again. We’ve put together a list of retrofit gadgets that will turn your existing motor into a technological powerhouse, making you the envy of all your mates. Stick with us as we teach your old car some new tricks.

Sat navHow to modernise your old car

Thanks to the arrival of smartphone mirroring and touchscreen infotainment systems, it’s never been easier to secure a sat nav in a new car, but it remains a costly business. Order a Dacia Sandero in plush Laureate trim and the Media Nav Evolution navigation system will set you back £300. Alternatively, opt for the Audi A3 SE and you’ll need to find £495 for the excellent MMI Navigation. Fortunately, aftermarket sat navs are more cost-effective and you won’t need to worry about it being obsolete in a few years time

We’ve been using a Garmin DriveSmart 50, which is about as thin as a tablet and available in three different sizes: 5-inch, 6-inch and 7-inch. In entry-level 5-inch guise, it’s a bit on the small side compared to modern infotainment systems, but as it’s Bluetooth enabled, you can ask for directions via voice command.

It also features driver alerts, such as the whereabouts of speed cameras, dangerous corners and animal crossing points. You need not worry about upgrades and the sat nav becoming obsolete, because you get a lifetime of free map and traffic avoidance updates. At the time of writing, the Garmin DriveSmart 50 5-inch is available for the reduced price of £143.99, although there are many other sat navs available.

Buy a Garmin DriveSmart 50 

In-car coffee machineHow to modernise your old car

This is one in-car gadget that might put you ahead of your friends and neighbours – an in-car coffee machine. The Handpresso Auto is the self-proclaimed ‘espresso machine for the car’, and it does exactly what it says on the box.

Plug it into your car’s 12v socket, fill it with cold water, add an Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pod and – two minutes later – a fresh espresso is served. The Handpresso Auto is designed to fit most cupholders and it could save you a fortune on takeaway coffees.

The Handpresso Auto will set you back £133, which is the equivalent of 80 or so takeaway espressos, and while you do need to factor in the cost of ESE pods, it is possible to use your favourite ground coffee. If you spend much of your time on the road, and too much money in coffee shops, this could be classed as a must-have accessory.

Buy a Handpresso Auto

CupholdersHow to modernise your old car

Until relatively recently, a car cupholder wasn’t a thing. Climb aboard a car from the 80s or 90s and you might be disappointed to find nowhere to put your energy drink. But don’t worry, because help is at hand in the form of an aftermarket cupholder, which you can buy for not much more than the price of an overpriced takeaway coffee. Sadly, it won’t be as cool as the cupholder in a Saab 9-5 (pictured).

Buy a cupholder for your car

BluetoothHow to modernise your old car

Under new rules likely to come in next year, motorists will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine if they’re caught using a mobile phone at the wheel. While many new cars are fitted with Bluetooth connectivity, an older car will need upgrading if you want to make and receive calls on the move. A Parrot Minikit Neo 2 HD costs less than £80 and features HD sound quality, plus an ability to switch between two phones.

Buy a Parrot Minikit Neo 2 HD

DAB radioHow to modernise your old car

The digital radio switchover could happen as soon as 2017, meaning traditional FM/AM receivers will be about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Not a problem if you own one of the 90% of new cars fitted with a DAB digital radio, but not so good if you’re making do with an old head unit. There are many options available if you fancy listening to DAB radio in an old car, including adapters and entirely new systems. Some companies will even retrofit a DAB system to an old unit, which will appeal to classic car owners who favour originality.

Buy a Bluetooth DAB adaptor

Alarm/immobiliser with remote central lockingHow to modernise your old car

Adding an alarm and immobiliser will not only secure your car, it might save you money on your car insurance. Some systems also offer options such as remote central locking and automatic window/sunroof closure, adding additional convenience.

Buy a Scorpion, Clifford or Viper alarm/immobiliser

USB chargerHow to modernise your old car

Once upon a time, a cigarette lighter – or cigar lighter, if your car was a bit posh – was a sign that you’d splashed out on a higher trim level. You can make use of what might otherwise be a dormant socket by converting it into a USB charger. For just a few pounds you can charge one, two, three or even four accessories on the move. New life for the cigarette lighter!

Buy a USB charger for your car

Apple CarPlayHow to modernise your old car

These days, Apple CarPlay is available on everything from a Suzuki Baleno to a Ferrari GTC4Lusso, but don’t feel that you have to buy new in order to enjoy the joys of seamless iPhone connectivity. The Pioneer SPH-DA120 offers a 6.2-inch touchscreen, GPS, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay – simply plug in and play. It’s available from Halfords for £329.

Buy a Pioneer SPH-DA120

Head-up displayHow to modernise your old car

General Motors was the first carmaker to introduce a head-up display (HUD), with a system debuting on the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Once the preserve of premium motors, HUD has filtered down to more humble vehicles, while it’s also possible to retro-fit a system to just about any car. The Garmin Head-Up Display receives navigation information from your smartphone and projects it onto a transparent film on the car’s windscreen. It’s compatible with the Navigon and Streetpilot apps.

Buy a Garmin Head-Up Display

Dashcam with added safety devicesHow to modernise your old car

These days, a dashcam might be considered less of an accessory and more of an essential requirement. Not only will it provide evidence in the event of an accident, it can also reduce the cost of your insurance. Prices start from around £50, although for £160 you can buy a ‘world first’ rear-view mirror camera, which also features forward collision and lane departure warning systems

Buy a rear-view-mirror dashcam

Powerful headlight bulbsHow to modernise your old car

Compared to new cars, many older vehicles may as well be running with candles perched on the edge of the front wings. Upgrading the headlight bulbs is a cost-effective way of improving visibility and staying safe. For example, a pair of Philips X-treme Vision bulbs will provide up to 130% more light, with a 45m longer beam, while a pair of Osram Night Breakers will add 110% and 35m respectively. Bank on paying between £20 and £30.

Buy upgraded headlight bulbs

Tyre pressure monitorHow to modernise your old car

The AA recommends you check your tyre pressures every couple of weeks, but how many of us remember to do so? Maplin offers a Bluetooth tyre pressure monitoring system, similar to that used in new cars. It monitors real time tyre pressure and temperature, and comes with an app for automatic monitoring and instant alerts. Yours for £149.99.

Buy a Maplin Bluetooth tyre pressure monitoring system

Parking sensorsHow to modernise your old car

If you’re one of the many motorists who don’t enjoy parking, help is at hand from as little as £10. This might seem like a small price to pay for an aftermarket reversing sensor, but the reviews appear to stack up. The only problem – you’ll have to fit it yourself, although the reviewers endorse the claim that the system is “easy to install”. Worth a look?

Buy a parking sensor for your car

Reversing cameraHow to modernise your old car

Alternatively, you can watch where you’re going with an aftermarket reversing camera. We found one on the Maplin website, complete with 3.5-inch colour monitor and automatic switching when reverse gear is engaged. It costs £84.99, but at the time of writing this price has been reduced to £64.99.

Buy a Maplin reversing camera

Heated seatsHow to modernise your old car

If you like the comfort of a warm bottom on a winter’s morning, you’ll be pleased to know it’s possible to retro-fit heated seats to the front seats of most vehicles. Heating elements are placed between the upholstery and the seat cover, without altering the shape or look of the seat. Why not go the whole hog and add lumbar support?

Fit heated seats to your car

Traffic monitoringHow to modernise your old car

If you run your sat nav via a smartphone or modern system, the chances are you already enjoy the benefits of real-time traffic monitoring. If not, it’s worth considering Waze, which claims to be ‘the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app’. Using insight from other motorists, Waze suggests the fastest and most optimal route possible to any destination. Best of all, it’s free!

Get the Waze traffic app

Seat-back tablet mountsHow to modernise your old car

This is one example of where an older car can stay ahead of the game. Rear-seat entertainment systems are fine, but technology moves on at such a rate, they’re soon outdated and outmoded. Besides, consumers want portability, so why not install a seat-back tablet mount – so you can take your entertainment with you? We found one for as little as £10.

Buy a seat-back tablet mount

Wi-fi dongleHow to modernise your old car

Turn your car into a wi-fi hotspot to provide your passengers with internet access while on the move. EE offers a 4G wi-fi, allowing users to check newsfeeds, stream music, play online games or post social updates commenting on your poor driving skills. The system supports up to 10 wi-fi-enabled devices at once, and there are various tariffs available.

Get in-car wi-fi access

TomTom Curfer plug-in dongleHow to modernise your old car

If your car was registered after 2004, you should be able to fit a TomTom Curfer. By plugging into your car’s OBD port, the Curfer links to your smartphone to provide feedback on your driving technique and your car’s performance. Curfer scores acceleration, cornering, braking and idling in real-time, along with detailed data on your car’s battery voltage, oil temperature and engine load. It’s geek heaven for £59.

Buy a TomTom Curfer 

Buy a new carHow to modernise your old car

Combine all of the above and we reckon you could turn your old motor into a techno powerhouse for around £1,500. Considering the Dacia Sandero Access – Britain’s cheapest new car – costs £5,995, and that doesn’t even have a radio, we think that represents excellent value for money. Alternatively, nip out and spend a shed load of cash on a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class.