The coronavirus pandemic has hit home for millions as it has evolved into serious business over the past few weeks in North America.
The virus known as COVID-19 has forced the world indoors, with individuals and families scrambling to adjust to what’s become our new normal. Federal and international guidelines broadcast over social media can read like a mother’s list of commands: "Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face! Stay indoors and work at home!" Businesses of all sizes are bracing for losses, with schools, houses of worship, and sports leagues closing down overnight. What has become an international crisis seems far beyond our control, unlike so much of our technologically-driven society.
Speaking of technology: cars have become the final frontier -- the last thing standing between people and the outside world. With the uncertainty surrounding the virus and knowing that anyone is at risk of transmitting it, retreating to your car while you look for food or essential supplies allows you to practice social distancing and (if it’s clean enough) maintain a controlled zone that keeps you and others safe. Over the last decade, technological advancements in vehicles -- including Bluetooth, streaming services, and Wi-Fi can help make your car feel like home.
This wireless tool has been a staple of electronic communications since the 2000s and has been the catalyst for both public events and private time. This technology exists in cars, especially those built in the last decade-plus, and has quickly replaced the AUX cord as the remote connection device of the time period. With smartphones becoming the telecommunications standard, and with state laws prohibiting distracted driving, it’s become paramount to create safe and comfortable environments to still use your phone while behind the wheel.
Bluetooth allows for the driver to connect remotely with their phone and perform a number of tasks, such as play music, run a GPS, and make phone calls. While many newer cars have the technology pre-installed and simply require a connection with an existing phone, older vehicles may need inexpensive add-ons, such as universal Bluetooth kits or car adapters.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and newly launched Disney+ have become ubiquitous as the video-on-demand experience has evolved from DVD and Blu-ray players in minivans to backseat passengers keeping themselves busy with hours’ worth of entertainment at their fingertips.
If you have children, quarantining can be more challenging – considering how school and work schedules have evaporated and with the pandemic’s full extent still unknown. As you would at home, a smart idea for making your car-ride experience more enjoyable is providing your children with portable, on-demand devices such as tablets and smartphones equipped with the streaming services (and potential child restrictions) of your choice.
In addition, you can use Bluetooth to amplify the sound and turn your car into a movie theater. With the right sound coming from the speaker, your child can have an all-encompassing experience that will add more value to an inevitable car ride to the nearest store that still has hand sanitizer or toilet paper.
In newer cars, Wi-Fi hotspots have emerged as a way to use the internet without spending valuable amounts of data. General Motors, for example, has made it standard amongst its brands. However, if this is not the case for your car, consider utilizing a Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone, which could open up options for further internet connection.
Using Wi-Fi in your car opens up the other two aforementioned technologies while providing a steady connection in your vehicle. If you have children, this wireless connection can keep them company during long breaks. If you’re single or have a partner who's along for the ride, in-car Wi-Fi gives your bank account a break by allowing you to alleviate unnecessary data usage.
Considering how much technology has affected society, car Wi-Fi can also make for a more creative way to stay “indoors” while outside the house. If you’re willing, turn on the car and use Wi-Fi to have a movie night -- battery permitting. The way cars have worked throughout history, it’s not surprising that people would want a respite from the deluge of horrific pandemic updates. Using car Wi-Fi to have a movie night is relatively safe, provided everyone is healthy.
The ‘Internet of Things’
As the internet becomes more essential to our existence, so have the capabilities to connect to the internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as the various ways our devices connect to the internet. Items such as phones, computers, and televisions are good examples, but more advanced options include wireless headphones, wearable fitness devices, remote monitors, and more.
As it applies to vehicles, IoT has major capabilities. Most new cars are equipped to be IoT-friendly. This has implications for using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other digital technologies. And as our society adjusts to our new wired future, our most universal devices are stepping up to the plate. By the end of 2020, IoT capabilities will be present in more than 250 million vehicles.
Some other examples of this breakthrough include automotive IoT, which aims to make driving a more perfect endeavor with features such as automotive cameras (which aid the driver when they are reversing the car, for example), radar, and in-car GPS. Many utilize traffic patterns through internet technologies, whether from your phone or from outside sources, to ensure the driver has a safe ride.
The coronavirus pandemic has created inconveniences for everyone, from billion-dollar corporations to everyday workers and their loved ones. With our cars becoming more of a safe harbor than usual due to the outbreak, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and be one step ahead of the spread.
HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air purifiers can come in handy in combating airborne particles, especially considering how the COVID-19 virus can remain in the air for up to three hours. Trust in name-brand purifiers used by major companies like Toyota (Plasmacluster from Sharp is a good example). Devices such as HEPA are CDC-approved for a minimum defense mechanism against coronaviruses.
Other car companies such as Jaguar and Yanfeng have adapted ultraviolet light to kill various airborne germs. These should be used with caution, however, especially considering the effects of UV and UV-C rays on the human body. Car disinfectants and odor eliminators, while more traditional, can at least mitigate the risks. That said, they cannot be guaranteed to actually kill the major flu viruses -- but they do help maintain a safer and cleaner car experience.
With the virus reaching its most powerful form in North America, people can maintain their cars as a viable safe space for quarantining. Technological improvements and advances such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, streaming services, and cleanliness measures can make your method of transportation a safe haven. With these advancements, you can take care of your health and well-being along the way.
Pictured top: Apple CarPlay
If “wearing many hats” is the metaphor for chronic multi-tasking, my virtual hat rack is full -- something that’s probably fairly obvious to anyone that’s followed my adventures on the social networks these past few years. On the surface, my #1 gig is being a parent - my wife and I raising The Rock Daughters™ with me as the (mostly) work-from-home parent while she maintains a career outside of the home. Thing is, as the years roll on, my travel has increased - the necessity of adventures in far-off locales… places where staying connected might not always be easy. On top of that, one of my lesser-known gigs involves my “other kids” - five of them. I serve as co-manager of the metal band Product of Hate - a gig that’s special to me as the boys are very much like my brothers, though on the artist management side there’s sometimes a “parental” vibe in looking out for their best interests, and part of that is helping to keep them connected to friends and family while out on the road. For their latest U.S. Tour, the AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR became a new tool in our arsenal - a Mobile WiFi Hotspot to put #RuggedWiFi* wherever the guys might be, as long as there’s a cell phone signal (4G LTE/4G where available).
Instagram rolled-out a pretty sweet update today - one that eliminated the need for resizing apps. It's now possible to go proper widescreen with both photos and videos, allowing users to share their content however it's intended to be. You can do portrait or landscape orientation, but I completely blame Periscope and Snapchat for making users think that it's actually okay to suffer from VPS: Vertical Phone Syndrome. Widescreen or square for me, and to demonstrate the new cinematic look to Instagram, the very first video to display the format is a pretty appropriate one - a new clip from STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS!
Some might say that "the drones are coming," but the reality of the matter is that they've already arrived. Those looking for the latest in state-of-the-art flying machines need look no further than their local Best Buy store for the 3D Robotics Solo Drone - the first-ever consumer drone powered by twin Linux computers. The Solo can "define its own flight," allowing pilots to focus their efforts on getting perfect shots from their drone-mounted camera. The intelligent drone is also the first to support full control of GoPro® cameras and deliver live HD video either wirelessly to your mobile device or through the controller’s HDMI port for live broadcasts. It has a killer camera gimbal (sold separately) that makes the shooting super smooth for absolutely professional results.
With all the video that I do between this site, my YouTube Channel (over 3 million plays and counting!), and my responsibilities as an Artist Manager and Music Video Director, many are often surprised that I do not yet own a GoPro for my personal use. Truth is, that sometimes surprises even myself, and the arrival of the GoPro HERO + LCD at Best Buy just may be the added nudge I have to get shopping... for an item that's been at the top of my "must-buy" list for ages. Already the go-to location for the biggest selection of GoPro Cameras and Accessories, Best Buy has the GoPro HERO + LCD in-stock and ready to rock right now - a waterproof, 1080p HD Action Camera perfect for capturing those family moments all summer, or all year round. It's the perfect entry-level model for families on the go. Check out the specs:
UPDATE: February 4, 2018 - Our dishwasher (like our washer and dryer) has broken down. We will not buy another Samsung product. PERIOD.
When it comes to the house, I'm pretty "domestic," but keeping Rock Father HQ running smoothly isn't really that easy. There's a lot of messes, and with two little girls and a constantly on-the-go Mommy and Daddy, dishes can pile up pretty quickly, and getting behind can cause a real jam-up in the kitchen. When we bought our house five years ago, one of the things we inherited was a dishwasher that was unattractive, clunky and just plain bad. Always on the ever-growing "to-do list" for replacement, we'd actually stopped using it by the end of our first year here - washing every dish by hand for about four years... up until a few weeks ago. When the crew from Best Buy arrived to install our new Samsung - WaterWall 24" Tall Tub Built-In Dishwasher, it was a glorious occasion - and a day that I was really looking forward to.