Radiomize slips snugly to a steering wheel and instantly transforms it into a smartphone control center on par with expensive smart car packages.
The claim: ‘Radiomize – From 0 to Smart Car in 5 Seconds.’
And all of that smart car power can be yours for fifty bucks to Radionmize’s Indiegogo campaign.
Back up the train car here!
IBM has worked with Radiomize to literally make most of the 21st century smart car’s array of intelligent features, and they fit it all into a cheap slip-on steering wheel cover?
Well, actually, yes, this is exactly what they did.
An Australian genius super team formed a gesture controlled smart track pad to line up with a right handed driver’s thumb while it rests on the wheel (sorry, southpaws, but there is no mention of a lefty model yet).
The upside for the price is tremendous, but there are downsides and less than crystal-clear sides as well.
First we look at the positive.
Radiomize is a pleather, odor-free (I find it odd they highlight this smelly fact), steering wheel cover that easily slips onto most types of wheels with a replaceable watch battery as a power source, for a year’s worth of juice, and there are rechargeable batteries available for purchase on your own, if you so deem.
The gadget also syncs with a couple of hearing aid brands for use with volume and audio.
The trackpad seems to deftly allow for the control of volume, radio and news stations through the Radiomize app and even scrolling functionality to go through text and email messages (at a stop), or while driving read those messages aloud to you, to keep the eyes on the task at hand, the road.
There is also a SOS safety program that will give up to five people of your choosing your location at all times.
And if your car is too old or too broken to have working speakers or a way to access them, the campaign offers a Bluetooth set built for the Radiomize for just twenty dollars more.
Examining the in-between the lines on Radiomize, it is not clear if the use of its own smart app to listen to music or news is the only source of sound, or if you can control your own iTunes for instance.
The smart app apparently notes your preferences and chooses your listening choices, akin to the Nest remembering and invoking your thermostat choices.
But what if I just want to play my own albums form iTunes?
My guess is that you cannot, yet at least, control your own apps with Radiomize, because the trackpad controls are not a true touchscreen or even a true trackpad, meaning there are specific motion controls recognized but those are very different from the gesture controls on your smartphones or computers.
That means you rely on their app to listen to tunes and have no freedom to go off on your own listening.
Though the benefits of the easy-to-use controls from the wheel, and especially for a car like my ’96 Camaro that has no smart functionality whatsoever, are huge, it is kind of difficult to guess why they did not make an actual fully functional trackpad to sync with Android or Apple products.
Having a built-in SOS tracking mechanism means that your steering wheel cover now tracks your every whereabouts at all times.
I have my location services turned off in my phone, sorry NSA, but it is not clear if you can do that with Radiomize.
In my mind, the jury is still out until we have more info on this interesting and potentially useful product.