March '18

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MARCH 2018 THE SHOP 39 do at home. We spoke with Doug Kern, VP of sales for BOSS Audio, who explained the company's mission to bring the latest technology into vehicles. "Now our customers will be able to access the tens of thousands of available Alexa's voice skills," he says. "They will be able to control their Alexa-enabled smart home products while driving, and prior to arriving home. Prompts like 'Alexa, turn the heat on at 72 degrees,' or 'Alexa, close the garage door.' They will be able to ask things like, 'Alexa tell me a joke,' 'Alexa, what's the news?' or 'Alexa, play country music' and more." The Soundstream VRA-67B can also be tied in with Alexa's voice controls. Imagine the possibilities of enabling the customer to turn on fog lights or firing up a winch via Alexa voice control. OLD VEHICLES, NEW TECHNOLOGY Alpine wanted to offer big screen sizes to those vehicles with typical single-DIN openings. It created an inventive mounting technique to float a 9-inch monitor in front of a mount that remains solid. It will be helpful for restylers who want to modernize an older vehicle. Mike Anderson, VP of Alpine's after- market division, notes: "Alpine blazed the trail with the first vehicle-specific 9-inch systems back in 2014, targeted to trucks and SUVs, but consumers have continued to request a model that will fit into a variety of (other) vehicles. The iLX-F309 represents a new step as it brings the 9-inch screen into a number of vehicles without the need for custom installation." The nickname will be the HALO9, because it will float in front of the dash like an angel's halo. It delivers all of the goodies of a feature-packed head unit including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While we can all appreciate the tech- nology on the horizon, CES is also a place to check out the items we can stock on our shelves right now. Scosche showed off a solution for wireless charging for Qi- enabled smartphones that uses the old- school CD player as a dock for the mount. The Scosche MagicMount Pro CHARGE CD uses a vehicle's CD slot for a centrally located mounting option. Its portable design allows for easy transfer between vehicles. Also available are dash vent and window or center-console options. VOXX Electronics showed an inventive blind spot detection system for shops with plug-and-play in mind. The Advent Fac- tory Taillight Replacement uses microwave sensors and includes rear cross traffic (RTC) and door opening warning (DOW). Once one of these units save your hide, you are sold on them for life. Aron Demers talks about the cool new solution: "The Advent Factory Taillight replacement with built-in blind spot detec- tion analyzes the environment and warns the driver through audible and visual alerts of oncoming objects from both the driver and passenger side, providing an OEM experience for a fraction of the cost." Truck applications were the focus of the CES launch, as most aftermarket radar-based systems out today have a limi- tation on vehicles with metal bumpers. "This system will be the industry's first aftermarket blind spot application for the light-duty truck market," he claims. With a simple installation in mind, the Advent Factory Taillight is a clean and quick install requiring no drilling or body modifications. The sensor is preassembled in the replacement taillight, reducing the possibility of installation error when mounting the sensor. If it takes off, we envision VOXX taking it to the next level and integrating the alerts into the factory instrument cluster through the vehicle's DataBus. VOXX also showed off a module for inte- grating FootWave into factory power lift gates that do not have the feature. So, your customers carrying groceries will not have to fumble for their keys. KICKER was showing off its 180.4. The company took a proven 4-channel ampli- fier and added an internal signal processor with a calibration microphone. The microphone listens to the incoming audio signal and adjusts the processor on- the-fly, adding appropriate EQ and crossover points. As the company says, "What would take hours for a professional to achieve hap- pens in a matter of seconds, all automati- cally with the press of a button. The concert quality of the stereo is then revealed." The unit will be especially helpful in factory audio systems that use equaliza- tion at the source unit. The KICKER unit allows the customer to add an amplifier and nullify the equalized factory settings for great sound. As the CES show floor proved, innova- tion in the electronics market continues to open doors for restylers. Even if self-driving vehicles are on their way, there's still a lot to be done between now and then. BRETT SOLOMON is a freelance writer based in New York City, specializing in the mobile electronics market. Today's drivers want technology that inte- grates with their smart- phones. KICKER's 180.4 takes a proven 4-channel amplifier and adds an internal signal processor with a calibration microphone. Alpine's "Halo" screens float in front of the dash.

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