First Click: Cars are the new gadgets

November 19th, 2015

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I’m not what you’d call a car guy. Sure I’ve owned a few, I even spent a summer wrenching on an old Karmann Ghia cabriolet with my pops as we transformed it into a daily driver. But that vintage VW was a distant cousin to the technology marvels available to purchase right now. Some of which I’d dare call gadgets.

Don’t believe me? Look at this Volvo concept revealed yesterday in LA:

Volvo Concept 26

But what is a gadget? A force-click on the word from this MacBook gives me the following definition:

/ˈɡadʒɪt/ a small mechanical device or tool, especially an ingenious or novel one.

The Tesla Model X isn’t exactly small at 5,441 pounds, but it’s certainly mechanical, ingenious, and novel. The Gogoro Smartscooter’s no slouch on the innovation front, either, but it still won’t fit inside your pocket. Nevertheless, they certainly share all the hallmarks of gadgets.

Both come with apps that help owners find their vehicles and control its features. Both are equipped with USB jacks and come powered by electricity stored in batteries. Both feature large displays as the primary mode of interactivity and both are lusted after by the nerdier elements of society. And that’s just the start.

tesla model x doors gif

The Tesla Model X is equipped with a camera, radar, and sonar system that actively scans roadway conditions. It features both "bioweapon defense" and "ludicrous" modes of operation. Its door handles extend automatically as the owner approaches while its folding winged doors open at an optimal arc in cramped spaces thanks to ultrasonic sensors that can see through metal. And its OS can be updated over-the-air to add new features like Autopilot, a self-driving capability that can also parallel park the car.

gogoro battery gif

The Gogoro Smartscooter, meanwhile, has customizable sounds, faceplates, and running lights with a dashboard that can be personalized from 129,600 colors. It has sensors for gravity, shock, temperature, and ambient light and radios for Bluetooth Low Energy and NFC. There’s even a USB charger in the trunk. And you never have to charge its batteries; just swap them out in seconds at any GoStation.

Transportation is the next consumer segment ripe for technological disruption. 10 years into the future, our modes of travel could be as unrecognizable as today’s cellphone market would be to anyone looking at it from the pre-iPhone days a decade ago. With Google, Apple, Tesla, and upstarts like Gogoro all knocking at the door, surely one company will break through. Not that the incumbents are asleep at the wheel.

The Chevy Bolt will make its production model premiere in January at CES. That "C" stands for consumer electronics, not cars, for a show that’s steadily attracting transportation companies of all types looking to showcase their next-gen technologies. Gogoro, for example, revealed its Smartscooter at CES 2015.

Look, if Oxford’s word of the year can be something other than a word, then surely scooters, cars, and other modes of modern personal transportation can be called gadgets, right?

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