As NHTSA mulls over new standards that could require mandatory rearview cameras, many automakers are already headed in that direction.
The new 2015 F-150 will be available with four cameras giving condo cowboys across America a 360-degree field of view while squeezing their manly machine into a compact spot in some urban underground parking garage.
The Corvette Stingray will soon be available with a built-in dash cam to record your track activity with telemetry data overlays. Cameras are all but standard in most packages too.
But what if these cameras also served other purposes? Say as a protection device for your car?
Consider this scenario: Your vehicle is parked on the street while you squeeze in one more tan session before your monthly pass expires. In the meantime some dingbat 17 year-old in a Mercury Sable decides she has plenty of room to squeeze between your new BMW 235isD M-sport and a dilapidated Honda Civic parked 7 feet in front of your car. She backs up, keeps backing, keeps backing – *bump/crunch.* She stops...and decides to go park somewhere else.
You exit the tanning salon feeling fit, smelling like coconut and ready to take on the…What the fuck!? Someone backed into your new car and there are no witnesses to this travesty/tragedy. Between the tanning chemicals, dietary supplements and anger issues you could punch through a donkey and choke the farmer standing next to it.
Then you remember – your BMW is equipped with iCaught (TM).
You get into the car; turn on the ignition and the screen prompts you that a minor collision was detected. "Would you like to review video?" the screen asks. You click YES. A video from both cameras, front and rear, begin to play on the 11' widescreen display. iCaught is designed to turn on milliseconds after the impact is detected and record direct to your in-car hard drive. The system also alerts your phone, but because you were tanning you missed the alert.
You write down the plate number in the video, report it to the police and within minutes they track down the car.
One teeny tiny problem…
Because the technology doesn't provide evidence of the person driving the car at the time of the incident it could make legal proceedings challenging. I wouldn't say this is reason enough to torpedo the idea entirely, but I do want to point it out before someone in the comments does.
Expect more creative marketing
This is just one way automakers could leverage existing hardware in an imaginative and fairly low cost manner to add more value to the consumer.
I suspect we will see more and more of this as automakers look for ways to prove to consumers that technologies such as 360-degree cameras have far more value than hitching trailers, parking and not backing over children.
The more value the consumer sees, the more money they might be willing to pay.