The Future of Car Gadgets: What Comes After the Vacuum

Microwaves and coffee makers could blur lines between car and kitchen

By Scott Ross
|  Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013  |  Updated 12:13 PM PDT
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The Future of Car Gadgets: What Comes After the Vacuum

Flux capacitor? Check! Vacuum cleaner? Check!

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On Tuesday night, Honda revealed that its new Odyssey would feature a vacuum cleaner built into the vehicle. No longer will you have to struggle with dust busters, cigarette lighter adapters, extension cords or coin-operated vacuums to clean up after the kiddies.

"I thought it was a joke at first," concedes Peter De Lorenzo, founder of Autoextremist.com. "And then I thought about it, and I guess for some people it might float their boat, but I think it's kind of ridiculous. But people with vans do different things… maybe it will be a miracle invention for them."

With the long overdue advent of the built-in vacuum cleaner, one might reasonably ask what other wonders the future of automobiles holds for us. While De Lorenzo would prefer that the focus of car technology be on driving, he foresees a number of decidedly non-driving features that could be on the horizon:

Coffee Maker: "We’ve gone from cup holders that cool drinks and warm drinks, and compartments in vehicles that cool things. So I would think it's the next logical step for the espresso fueled nation we live in now." 

Solar-Powered Food Warmer: The Odyssey already has an in-dash cooler that runs off the car's air conditioner. De Lorenzo has heard rumblings of something that runs off the sun to "keep your Happy Meal" hot.

Mini-Microwave: But what if you need a little more horsepower? What if you need to make food hot instead of keep it hot? De Lorenzo fears that rumors of an in-car microwave oven will become a reality.

Modular Carpeting: It seems that car companies are focused on two things: keeping us fed, and protecting our cars from children. "You could easily remove bits of carpet and replace them," says De Lorenzo. "If the vacuum doesn’t work you can really make a change right away, if something terrible happens, some sort of episode."

Tweet-Mobile: De Lorenzo recognizes that cars are going to become progressively more web-enabled, but he says there should be limits. "There are some who are investigating speaking into the car's microphone and tweeting, translating your words into tweets," he said. "Some people are saying, well it's just the same as having a phone conversation — no, it isn’t. I think that crosses the line. I don't think people should be investigating their social media space while driving."

This is only the tip of the iceberg, of course. If Google Glass is a hit, can the Google Windshield be too far behind?

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