Cars are getting smarter. They now regularly come with various internet-connected features, and the average car of today has the computing power of about 20 personal computers. Companies are also testing self-driving vehicles. But what if you drive an older model, and your car isn’t up to date with all the latest tech trends? Don’t worry — you can still make your car smart by adding after-market gadgets like the ones listed below.
1. Heads-Up Display
Some modern vehicles come with a built-in heads-up display (HUD), which projects driving directions and other information in your field of vision. You can also get this capability, which was first used military fighter jets, with after-market products.
The Hudway Cast, for instance, uses Apple AirPlay and Google Cast features to cast your smartphone screen onto a transparent lens placed in the driver’s field of vision. You can grab one for $299. The company is also raising funds on Kickstarter for a HUD for helmets.
2. On-Board Diagnostics Device
The majority of cars made in the U.S. have an on-board diagnostics port into which you can plug a specialized sensor to get data on vehicle health and more. Thanks to today’s smart devices, gaining access to that data is easier than ever.
Companies like Dash sell sensors that enable you to access vehicle data via a smartphone app. You can use the app to see details about mileage, fuel consumption, engine health and more. The Dash device is $39, and the app is free.
3. Smart LEDs
Add some personality — and tech wizardry — to your car with smart LED lighting. Smart LED lighting strips, dome lights, panel lights, trim lights and more are all widely available today, and the customization possibilities are almost endless. Type S Plug and Glow lighting, for instance, offers 49 different colors, and their products are controllable with a smartphone.
LEDs are also more efficient than incandescent bulbs, don’t generate waste heat and are resistant to vibrations, making them ideal for use in a vehicle. Controlling your car lights has never been so stylish!
4. Car Finder
Do you ever lose your car in crowded parking lots? It’s a common problem and one that technology can help solve. Lots of apps address this issue by letting you mark your car’s location on a map when you park. You can even do this with many standard map apps.
Nonda ZUS Smart Car Charger offers a smart device that will charge your phone, monitor your car battery, find your car and manage your parking time all in one! The device is $34.99, and you can download the app for free. You don’t even have to think about marking the location when you park. If you forget where you parked later, you just launch the app for directions.
Some car makers are even integrating this capability into their vehicles. Audi now includes a 4G LTE connection in its vehicles to allow users to find their cars with their smartphones or smartwatches. The project, which Audi calls the Secure Key system, also enables users to start their cars remotely.
5. Remote Car Starter
Ever wish you could start your car from the warmth of your kitchen in the winter? You can give any car this capability with an after-market remote car starter such as the Python SmartStart. You can use a physical remote or your smartphone with the Python system. In addition to starting your car, you can also lock and unlock it, set off the alarm and more.
You can also get access to features such as GPS tracking, SmartSchedule and Directed Motor Club, which helps you if you need services such as a tow or jump. The system is around $190, and you’ll have to pay for a service plan, which costs $70 a year for the most basic level.
6. Smart Car Charger
Today’s car chargers can do more than just charge your phone — a lot more. The Roav VIVA, for example, allows you to control your entertainment and navigation system with your voice using Amazon Alexa. You can play music, listen to audiobooks, make phone calls and more. The VIVA also features voice isolation technology to better detect your voice and can charge two devices at full speed. It goes for around $40 to $60.
Clearly, you don’t have to buy a whole new vehicle to make your car smart. You can just purchase one of the many after-market products available that will make your regular car smart.