June '18

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JUNE 2018 THE SHOP 67 the vehicle, he says. If these steps don't work, then it's time to employ boosting technology. "A cell booster for your vehicle works very similar to how an FM radio works," he adds. "An antenna outside your vehicle col- lects available cell signals and passes them through a wire to an amplifier. It boosts the signals and passes them through another wire to an antenna inside your vehicle. That antenna distributes the amplified signals so cell devices in the vehicle can use them. But unlike an FM radio, the cell booster works in both directions. It also amplifies the cell signals going from your phone back to the tower." GETTING WI-FI IN THE CAR When the kids are screaming in the back- seat, there is nothing like entertainment on demand. While some customers prefer the tried-and-true monitors installed in a headrest or overhead system, some kids just want to access the same content they use on their tablet in their house. This demands in-car Wi-Fi, and the push is already on for automakers to bring in-car connectivity and Wi-Fi to new vehicles. This allows manufacturers the ability to provide more in-dash navigation and enter- tainment options. If there is a connectivity gateway, it also allows the manufacturer to update the vehicle's software remotely, saving money and a trip to the dealership. GM was the first manufacturer to announce Wi-Fi will be featured in all new vehicles sold in the United States. But, what about Wi-Fi access in older vehicles? The first and simplest option is using a smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Of course, the downside is the huge amount of data it can consume in addition to having to leave it plugged in—a constantly draining battery means the customer must keep it charging while they drive. The next option is purchasing a mobile hotspot. This is a small router that allows customers to connect multiple devices at the same time. It saves the phone's data plan and internal battery, but means an additional monthly fee. One also has to remember to actually bring the unit along for the journey. Now, heavy users can investigate built-in Wi-Fi. The customer will still have to pay for an additional data plan, but the router will always be installed in the vehicle, ready to roll. One company offering built-in Wi-Fi along with additional vehicle services is Vinli. The company sells a unit that plugs into the OBD-II port with a $30 monthly subscription fee for built-in Wi-Fi. Using the OBD-II port as a power source also allows Vinli to broadcast data about the specific vehicle back to the mothership. Large service chains such as Meineke have tied in, offering the product at a discount with an accompanying app that notifies the end user when it is time for vehicle service. Car dealerships have gotten into selling the device as well. Customers get Wi-Fi, and they get to keep tabs on service sched- ules. Mobile electronics shops may want to follow suit. BRETT SOLOMON is a freelance writer based in New York City, specializing in the mobile electronics market. • Custom Autosound is the original manufacturer of modern radios for classic cars, trucks and street rods. • Serving the classic car industry for over 40 years. • Complete audio systems including radios, speakers, amps, and specialty audio equipment. • The only company offering over 400 applications by year and model ready to install. No dash modification required. • We never sell retail, we are your partner, not your competitor. • We drop ship to your customer at no additional charge. You order a radio for a '66 Mustang, that's what it will fit. No cutting or modifications to the dash or the radio. Ready to install! "Custom Autosound supports you by advertising in over thirty-five publications plus radio and television spot ads." NO RETAIL SALES. To become a dealer visit: or call 800-888-8637 Licensed by Ford and GM.

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