Category Archives: News

In the Future We May Not Have to Drive Our Cars At All

Technology has advanced to make drivers on the road safer, but with as many as 1.3 million people still dying in road crashes every year, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, there’s still a lot of improvement to be made. From driving assistance apps to back-up sensors to virtual driving screens, drivers today have more options than ever to improve safety on the road.

On the road today

Lane changing on the road is one skill new drivers need to learn rather quickly, especially when they are preparing for upcoming permit practice tests. Lane Departure Warning systems can assist new drivers with this learned skill. With the use of a video camera, the Bosch Automotive Technology system helps drivers monitor lane changing (and weaving) and gets them in the habit of using blinker lights more often. When the system detects the driver’s vehicle is unintentionally moving out of the lane, it can warn drivers by a visual signal on the dashboard, an audible warning or even by vibrating the steering wheel.

One system that is becoming standard in all modern car are rear cameras. Aside from reducing the number of knocked down mailboxes and bumped shopping carts, they can also cut down on pedestrian injuries. As many as 292 people are killed and another 18,000 are injured each year due to drivers backing into them, mostly in driveways and parking lots. Rear cameras provide a window to one of your major blind spots, which is the area behind the bumper, including the area low to the ground. The device can reduce a driver’s blind zone up to 90 percent on average.

Parking has become much easier for some of today’s drivers, too. Some higher-end vehicles on the road today, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and E-Class sedans, are already equipped with new technology that does the work for you. Ford has its own full-assist parking technology that should soon make it more affordable and more available. Ultrasonic sensors actually scan a parking lot for open spaces, then locate a suitable space and alerts the driver. The driver can then either get out and park the vehicle remotely or stay in the car and do so. A simple press of a button is all that is required to make the car automatically shift gears, accelerate, steer and brake into the open spot.

In the future

Though Google has created a media frenzy about experimental self-driving cars, Toyota is working to create a complete “smart car” as early as 2017. The Japanese auto maker is working on rolling out a full crash-prevention vehicle that eliminates blind spots. Crash-prevention vehicles would combine today’s driver-assist technology with more advanced technology, such as remote sensors using lasers and reflected light to provide a 360-degree view around a vehicle. Toyota also hopes to feature its Automated Highway Driving Assist, which includes radar cruise control, to keep a car a safe distance from other vehicles. When on cruise control, these smart cars will be able to sense situations ahead that would normally require full human control.

Years from now, drivers may be equipped with a windscreen that has virtual technology. Jaguar Land Rover is working on a virtual windscreen that enables drivers to see on-screen images of 3D lanes, vehicles and navigation icons to improve driving skills. The lifelike graphics can prepare new drivers as it also has a feature that simulates cones on the windscreen, allowing the driver to practice maneuvers in an empty parking lot. For race car drivers, the technology can record your previous lap and display a simulated version of your vehicle on the windscreen, allowing you to try and best your previous laps. Jaguar is also working to expand gesture control capabilities, so a driver can find a button, like stereo controls, without really looking.

Natural Gas Vehicles – Making the Dream of Alternative Fuel a Reality


Public transportation across the United States has been utilizing alternative fuel vehicles for decades, employing buses that run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or a liquefied natural gas (LNG) to alleviate the burden of high fuel emissions from conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles. And according to the industry group NGV Global, there are more than 16.7 million natural-gas vehicles on the road worldwide at the end of 2012. In the United States however, using natural gas cars has been slow to catch on. Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are, for one thing, still much pricier than gasoline powered vehicles, or even hybrids. But when taking into account the many benefits they offer for both drivers and the environment, an interest in NGVs in one we can all afford to develop.


Like any alternative method, it’s wise to take some considerations into account before implementing CNG or LNG into your fueling routine. But for the average motorist, there are many good reasons to make the switch.


  • Safety: It comes as a surprise to some to learn that natural gas cars are found to be safer than those that run on diesel or gasoline. This is because not only do the physical properties of natural gas make it safer (less flammable) but it is lighter than air, and if it were to leak it would simply rise into the atmosphere and disperse. It is also odorless and non-toxic. The fuel tank which contains the gas is also made of steel up to a half-inch thick and coated in protective fiberglass. Newer tanks can even be made of polymers that exceed the strength of steel. The massive car recalls imposed by both GM and Ford this year alone make the safety of an NGV appealing.
  • Environmentalism:  Natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, produces the fewest emissions of all internal combustion vehicles. The pollutants found in natural gas are also significantly fewer than those found in gasoline. In most cases, using natural gas results in less carbon dioxide, (the primary greenhouse gas), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and small (but harmful) particulate matter. Using natural gas assists with a host of environmental concerns, such as CO2 emissions, smog, and acid rain. Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States.
  • Life in the Fast Lane: NGV drivers are allowed to drive in the express or carpool lanes on many highways.
  • Domestic: Natural gas is found in plentiful amounts right here in the United States, reducing the supply chain needed to bring drivers their fuel. By utilizing an abundant form of energy found right here at home we can save untold amounts on transport alone. Unlike oil, which is typically imported, approximately 99 percent of the United States’ natural gas supply is found here in North America.


Even if the environment is out of the realm of your interests, and you’re content with the performance of your current vehicle, alternative fuels are also an attractive option due to the rising costs of typical gasoline. CNG costs less than gasoline, and is also a clean-burning fuel which results in less engine wear and fewer oil changes. Certain states offer tax credits for purchasing an NGV, and NGV owners are also potentially eligible for state and local tax benefits. Many websites such as this resource help consumers explore their options, whether they choose to convert their vehicles to run on natural gas or decide to purchase a new one off the lot.


Not everyone agrees that natural gas is the best choice for motorists. There are some serious limitations for those interested in making the commitment to an NGV. For one thing, they are manufactured by fewer automobile companies, and are typically more expensive. There is also a limited number of fueling stations where one may go to refuel the vehicle when needed. Most are located only in largest metropolitan areas. The “fracking” process through which natural gas is often extracted from the ground also has many Americans concerned.


Of course, the rising interest in these vehicles raises many questions. Should the government effectively try to “sell” these vehicles to its citizenry? And does it make sense to choose one type of alternative vehicle – NGVs, say, over hybrids or plug-ins? Some have argued that it might be easier to use our natural gas resources to power electric cars rather than create an entirely new fueling system. But seeing natural gas technology flourish in places like Iran, Pakistan, Brazil and Argentina gives us hope that this alternative fuel might soon be able to reduce our dependency on oil, improve the air we breathe, and make our impact on the planet less destructive.

This article was originally submitted to from Kate Voss.

3 Smartphone Accessories to Upgrade Your Style

Smartphones are like college degrees. It’s great to have one and often even expected, but nobody is impressed unless you can actually do something cool with it. There’s nothing special about iPhones and Androids anymore; everyone has one. In 2012, a Pew study found that more than half of all cell phone users owned some kind of smartphone. Two years later that number is even higher.

The new toys you can buy to buddy up with your smartphone, now that’s cool. There’s technology out there for iOS and Android we couldn’t even imagine when the first iPhone launched in 2007. And these new gadgets aren’t just for show—some of them actually improve your everyday life.


Sorry, Android. We’re going to talk Apple for just a bit. Car systems are the best way to connect and use your smartphone on the road. Using just a Bluetooth connection, they can play your music, take your phone calls and even read your text messages without ever laying a thumb on your phone’s screen.

There’s just one issue—car systems have to accommodate every smartphone, which means there are glitches from time to time (and constant updates). Apple decided to cut out the middleman and made CarPlay, its own proprietary car system for iOS. The system looks like a small iPad mounted in the car’s center console and connects directly with iOS devices to utilize music, apps, navigation, calls and texts.

Unfortunately, for the time being CarPlay is only available in high-end cars like Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. So if you’re planning to buy one, congratulations. Otherwise, you can pick up an aftermarket kit from companies like Pioneer.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

It might seem like overkill to wear a watch from Star Trek to pair with your phone, but Samsung has put some serious effort into making Android gear cool in ways that Apple is not.

Think of the smartwatch as a tiny table that connects to your phone. Like CarPlay, you can make calls, read texts, play music and, yes, even keep time. It pairs with any Android phone, but works even better with another Samsung device like the Galaxy Note 3. Best of all, the watch actually looks like a watch, which sets it apart from those hideous Google Glasses.


Nest (now owned by Google) makes two products—a thermostat and a smoke/carbon monoxide detector—and they both have some nifty tricks. What’s so exciting about household appliances? Well, unlike the Maytag your parents own, the Nest Thermostat learns your heating and cooling habits, and you can even set voice controls from your Android phone.

Is there smoke in your house when you’re not home? The Nest smoke detector can actually send a text message to your neighbors (assuming they’re also your friends, enemies might love to watch your house burn). These two seemingly simple smart devices can make small tasks turn into big wins.


It’s Time to Develop Educational Games: Here’s How

Video games have reached into every aspect of our lives, and educators are seeing a growth in games being used to teach. Research published by Online College Courses reveal that 95 percent of educators use video games designed specifically for education. Getting started creating and implementing educational video games in the classroom and online requires several key components, and here’s what you need to know to develop and release an educational game:

Your Team

Many different people are involved in the creation of a video game, and not all of them are programmers. There is software, such as ClassTools, that allows educators to develop educational games on their own, but many larger or unique projects require a team working in concert to develop. Game development requires the creation of resources such as graphics and sound, and while many game development suites have free resources available, any unique game will require the creation of the resources in-house. Additionally, the educational nature of the game will require educators themselves to contribute content — for example, a game meant to teach medical or anatomical lessons will require a professional in the field to contribute information as well as fact check.

The Demographics

Choosing the demographic your game targets will help you develop a game that is appropriate for its audience. Video games meant to target reading skills work best for younger audiences; Research published by Edudemic suggests that video games can improve early literacy skills in players aged 4 to 5, especially when the focus is on letter recognition and story comprehension. Games meant to focus on complex problem solving should contain a tone and mood that is more appropriate to older audiences.

Reaching a demographic is another important aspect of game development. If a game is meant for a specific class, simply allowing them to download should suffice. If the intention is to reach a broad demographic of players, sites that provide free game access, like iWin, are an excellent choice. While console gaming systems do have downloadable games, the console market for educational games has been relatively weak compared to the personal computer and smartphone app market.


Educational games can create profit for their developers if they are well-built and parents approve. The 2012 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report shows that 66 percent of parents believe playing video games can provide education and positive mental stimulation.

Funding can come from many sources. The U.S Department of Education awards funds to small businesses dedicated to the creation of commercial technologies designed to educate and, according to its official blog, more than half of the recipients of these grants in 2013 were educational game developers.

These sorts of grants are not limited to games for children, and developers working to create adult education games are also viable for these grants. Despite this, most commercially successful educational games tend to target children; The Guardian reports that the children’s smartphone app Toca Boca has generated more than more than 30 million paid and free downloads, and that Duck Duck Moose has reported well over 2 million downloads. Currently, the market seems to best support educational games for children, and developers looking to create a profitable educational game should bear this fact in mind when designing and developing their titles.

PeachSuite Offers Quality Supplies And Equipment

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Revived with BYOD: Blackberry Turns to Amazon Apps

BlackBerry won’t quit. Before the word “smartphone” was even widely used, BlackBerry was the best choice for business people who wanted a mobile device that combined the Palm (remember those?) and cellphones. BlackBerry was the first to figure out how to make one great mobile device for work, and delivered better ones than Palm tried, too late, to get on the market.

Then, came iPhones and Android phones, and BlackBerry’s cache fell. People started using these devices to manage their personal lives, and in recent years, their professional ones as well. This launched the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, and changed the face of the workplace.

BlackBerry’s BYOD Revival

BYOD is helping to revive BlackBerry. After an initial struggle with IT staff and CIOs, BYOD is now part of many company’s guidelines on using personal devices at work. According to ZDNet, more than 60 percent of companies had BYOD policies in place by the end of 2013. These policies lay out acceptable uses for smartphones and tablets at work, the brands and models IT will support and a lot on security practices that IT can only hope employees follow.

Since BlackBerry was already in tune with workplaces, it created, along with several cloud providers, mobile device management (MDM) systems to protect workplace data. MDM ensures that company data doesn’t mingle with employees’ personal data. The best systems work with all mobile brands and operating systems, ending the conflict between employees whose devices aren’t on the A-List and harried BYOD policymakers.

BlackBerry’s Embrace of the App

BlackBerry is still in the mobile device market, which is strongly driven by apps. Although it offers about 130,000 of its own apps, the company opened itself up to the Android market for BlackBerry 10 phones. Although the company initially kept quiet about it, they released an upgrade released in January 2014 allowing users to directly download Android apps. There were some initial challenges with an open ecosystem, BlackBerry’s Vice President for Platforms Chris Smith told PC. “That’s held us back in certain markets.”

However, the ecosystem appears to be working enough for Amazon to agree to give owners of BlackBerry 10.3 devices access to 240,000 apps it has available online. Although the numbers don’t match the volume offered by Google and Apple, it includes many familiar ones that consumers love. This deal can only support the current revival BlackBerry is enjoying.

Smartphones don’t last for more than a few years. When it’s time to buy a new one, current Android uses could be more willing to look at a BlackBerry if they know they can continue to enjoy the same apps.

Amazon’s Gain

Through this deal, Amazon gets more customers visiting its App Store site instead of the Apple Store or Google Marketplace. These same customers also could decide to purchase Amazon Prime membership or other products while they are there. It also could be another front on Amazon’s war against Apple, where the two have fought over e-publishing pricing. Just a year ago, Apple was convicted in a Federal court of conspiring to raise the price of e-books.

The deal also happens to fall just as Amazon’s first-ever smartphone was released to reviewers. The phone, called Fire, doesn’t appear to be a BlackBerry competitor, but one packaged for consumer use (it features 3D viewing). Could it tempt some iPhone users? “Amazon wants you to purchase things,” says TechRadar, “and it’s come up with a way to do so from your pocket.” What could be sweeter than announcing two new deals in one week?

Four Reasons Why Driving Cameras are More Important than Ever

You are driving down the freeway, minding your own business, when all of the sudden another driver abruptly cuts in front of you and then slams on the brakes for no reason. Although you do your best to stop in time, you end up rear-ending the doofus driver. Since this type of accident is usually considered to be the fault of the person doing the rear-ending, you are understandably worried about a huge jump in your insurance bills.

This scenario is just one of many reasons why on-board cameras are such a good idea. The following four reasons explain why investing in a dash cam or other type of on-board surveillance system can be incredibly useful:

Avoiding insurance hassles

As the situation above illustrates, a car security camera can be an incredibly useful tool to help avoid insurance disputes. As Brick House Security notes, video evidence will clearly show both a police officer and a judge who was at fault in an accident, and it may help prove that a situation might not be what it seems. On-board cameras are also extremely useful for motorcycle owners, and they can easily be mounted to the body of the bike or the rider’s helmet. Companies like BikeBandit have a variety of riding accessories for this purpose, including cameras that are ideal for capturing video on a motorcycle that is zipping along at 65 miles per hour.

Keeping tabs on your teen

Yes, you want to trust your teen to make the right decisions while on the road. But you also remember your own teenage years and you know that sometimes even the best kids will make dumb choices while driving a two-ton piece of metal. This is another reason why investing in an in-car camera is such a great idea. For example, a dual view camera comes with two lenses that will simultaneously record the inside and outside of the vehicle at all times. The GS50 model from Rear View Safety features a handy suction cup mount that allows the camera to be quickly installed on the windshield of your car.

The in-car camera can also come in handy while you are teaching your teen to drive. As Driving Instructor notes, once you finish your lesson, you can play the recording back to your teen and point out everything he or she did really well, as well as use it as a teaching tool if your new driver made any errors.

Being more aware of the cars around you

As J Trader notes, an in-car camera can also be installed in a way that allows you to get a much better view of the sides of your vehicle. By mounting your camera to capture the blind spots around your car, you will be much-better equipped to see everything that is around you on the road; simply look at the camera screen in addition to your mirrors.

Capturing vacation memories

While car and motorcycle cameras are often used for more serious reasons, they have a fun side to them, as well. For example, if you are on vacation with your family and are about to drive through some gorgeous section of the country, you can use your car camera to capture the amazing scenery.