2012年3月30日星期五

Transform Your Car Into A ‘Smart’ Productivity Tool!

Transform Your Car Into A ‘Smart’ Productivity Tool!

If you spend long hours in your car every day, it’s worth equipping your car with a few useful gadgets, which can help to make your travelling time more productive.
With our working days becoming busier and more demanding, the time that a business executive spends in commuting comprises a significant chunk of the day. If you too happen to be one such busy professional who spends a lot of time travelling in your car, you will be thrilled to know that the time that you spend in your vehicle can now be made much more productive. And that your automobile can also become your largest mobile productivity tool.
With an always-on Internet connection, and a plethora of interesting gadgets and applications now available in the market, you can equip your vehicle smartly and stay connected with your work even when you are on the move.
Now, let’s take a look at some of these interesting and useful gadgets that you can install in your car.
1. A GPS-based car navigation system
When travelling to new locations within your city, a GPS-based car navigation system can be extremely helpful. These units are installed on your car’s dashboard and come pre-loaded with maps of several cities. They work by plotting your location on the map in real time, using global positioning system (GPS) technology. You can use a GPS system to find out where you are located, as well as the shortest route to any destination you need to travel to. It often includes satellite-based vocal directions as you navigate through your route, informing you about upcoming turns (also known as turn-by-turn navigation). It’s sure to make your business trips a lot safer and more convenient. In the future, you can expect the navigation system to update you with real time traffic information and even suggest alternate routes on the basis of that information. MapMyIndia Navigator is one of the popular car GPS devices available in the market right now. Some mobile phones that come preloaded with Google Maps can also provide similar functionality, though they are harder to use if you are driving the vehicle yourself.
2. USB car chargers
If you are constantly shuffling between meetings and appointments, your mobile phone battery may run out, quickly. If you have limited access to wall charging sockets during the day, car chargers make for a good investment. Car chargers for mobile phones are nothing new, but most car chargers work only for phones of a specific brand or model. If you are in the habit of upgrading your cell phone often, you might find yourself repeatedly buying a new car charger for every new phone you buy. Instead, you can go for the recently introduced USB-based car chargers. Most modern smartphones support charging via a USB port. You can plug the charger into your car’s cigarette lighter and then charge your phone while you’re driving. In fact, you can use it to charge any USB-powered device, including mobile phones, iPhones, iPods and other MP3 players. Certain tablet computers can be charged too, taking mobile productivity to altogether new levels. USB car chargers are also rather inexpensive. For example, you can get a Jabra and Belkin USB car charger for about Rs1000.
3. For a hands-free and safer conversation
Although talking on a phone can be dangerous (and even illegal), there is no denying that receiving a call while driving is sometimes unavoidable. Instead of holding the handset to your ear or wearing a hands-free kit throughout your drive, you can now listen to your callers through the speaker system in your car! A few high-end stereo systems can act as a hands-free kit for any Bluetooth-enabled phone. A noise-reducing microphone is integrated into the stereo system to capture your voice while the caller’s voice is played back through the car’s speaker system, making it loud and clear. Some models can even give you access to your phone contacts and speed dial directly on the screen. One definite downside of this feature is that if you have other passengers in your car, they will be able to listen to your conversation as well. Sony’s stereo systems that come with this feature are popular, and they cost around Rs 11,000, excluding the speakers.
4. An in-car DVD player and screen
If you are on the road, especially on a long journey, you can watch an entire business presentation or a pre-recorded seminar right in your car. A small but incredibly sharp and bright LCD screen can be installed at multiple positions inside a car to allow any passenger to watch video content. The screen connects to the car DVD player installed in the car and is capable of displaying both audio, video and digital photo content. However, these systems are quite expensive, starting at Rs 26,000 and going all the way up to Rs 35,000 is some cases. In the future, these screens may even connect to your mobile phone, letting you watch your presentations, documents and applications on a bigger screen. However, this option is recommended only if you are being chauffer-driven, since visual content can be extremely distracting.
5. Noise cancelling headphones
Even with the windows rolled up, a lot of noise from the car’s engine and the surrounding traffic is audible inside the car. If you are listening to presentations or talks inside the car with a regular pair of headphones, you’ll often need to increase the volume to counter-effect the ambient noise. Instead, you can opt for noise cancellation headphones, which significantly eliminate surrounding noise and make your listening experience much more pleasurable. In fact, you can even buy these headphones just to take a quick nap during your journey. Bose and Sennheiser are the brands to consider, with a good model being available for around Rs 15,000.
6. Mobile phone applications
Your mobile phone can also be used while driving, even while you are not looking directly at the screen, thanks to some very useful applications developed exactly for this purpose. Applications like drivesafe.ly can read out your email or text messages, aloud, as soon as they arrive, so that you are always in touch. Similarly, you can also install applications that convert your voice to text, which is sent as e-mails or text messages.
A peek into the future
As these features get more widely adopted, most of them will begin to come as standard features that are fitted in new cars. Soon the must-have option for new cars won’t be a sunroof or leather seats–it will be features like video-on-demand, which will let you watch any video on the Web, at the click of a button. Internet radio will keep you informed about the latest business news and updates during your travel and remote monitoring will let you monitor your office even while you’re away.
With the global population on the rise and roads getting more and more crammed, your daily commute is expected to get longer, day by day. The automobile industry also recognises the need to help people stay productive even when they commute. However, in the process, the biggest challenge they face is ensuring the safety of the driver and the passengers. Like smartphones revolutionised the mobile phone industry, a whole new breed of cars that are safe, comfortable as well as smart, are set to emerge. Till that happens, you can equip your car with a couple of these tools and make the most of your travel time.
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