The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tap windscreen, send driver scurrying

Chennai, Oct. 16: You don’t have to be a technowhiz to appreciate the virtues of the Boomrang Alpha 2000 — an omnibus car gizmo that allows you to switch on the air-conditioner of your car long before you have entered it so that the temperature inside is just the way you want it, or call the pesky driver, who has the irritating habit of disappearing when you need him, just by tapping the windscreen of the car.

There’s more to the auto gizmo being showcased at the Chennai Auto Show: it comes loaded with a central locking system. But the unique feature of this two-way interactive communications gadget that looks like a tiny mobile phone of 5 cm with an LCD display is that it can send the car owner, graphical, text and voice displays and messages.

“If a car thief tries to open your car, the gadget will show you the exact door that is being opened on the LCD display (in an animated form) and also send out an alarm and a text message. If you have parked your car outside a hospital or a school, the alarm will go off on your gadget and not in the car. The alarm can be set in ringing or vibrator form,” says C. Sundar, director of Focus Automatifs and the auto gizmo’s South India dealer.

It also comes with an engine immobiliser so that the car thief can’t make away with the vehicle if you are slow to respond to the alarm.

The small-sized car gadget — costing just Rs 15,000 — is creating waves at the exhibition as it gives carowners a geewhiz gizmo that can be loaded on to a low-end Maruti-800 or a high-end Mercedes Benz.

The auto gizmo is also likely to pose problems for car manufacturers who charge Rs 30,000 extra for a central locking system.

The gadget has a range of more than 1 km without major obstructions and uses a radio frequency. “Sitting in your office, the gadget allows you to monitor the temperature of your car and to switch on the AC so that when you enter the car it is ready to give you that comfort. This also reduces the impact on the engine,” added Sundar.

There are other features that a car owner will appreciate, for instance, if you are away on leave, you can programme the gadget to switch on the car for 15 minutes every day to avoid the problem of a run-down battery.

But just remember to leave the gear in neutral. No, the car will not zip around on its own, but will simply refuse to accept the command.

Parking the car in a congested area will no longer be a problem with the “shock sensing” system software bundled with the product. “The car will start giving out sounds the minute it is near an obstruction while parking. The impact sensors immediately react and alert the driver,” said Sundar.

At present, the product is being imported from a Taiwanese company, Vision, in a semi-knocked down stage and retailed in India by Noida-based Unishilp Electronics Pvt Ltd.

Industry sources said the company is likely to soon apply to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to bring in investment to manufacture the product in India.

“This is a product that has been approved by major car manufacturing companies like Toyota, Nissan, Holden Mazda and others. The dealers worldwide offer such security system products as part of the automobile. In India, a few car manufacturers and their dealers have shown interest but the negotiations are in a preliminary stage,” industry sources said.

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