By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Radar detector sales this year are flat, although some suppliers are hoping for an increase next year due to possible police use of a new radar band.
Carl Fohres, president of Speed Measurement Labs, Fort Worth, Texas, said one police radar gun manufacturer is producing a prototype of a new Ku-band radar gun at 13.45GHz, which could lead to police use of Ku guns as early as September of next year.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed that radio location has been approved at 13.45GHz in the Ku band for a number of years.
Cobra's sales and marketing senior VP Tony Mirabelli said less explicitly, “There is reportedly new technology that may be entering the marketplace next year … I think you'll see a shift in new features and a revitalization in radar SKU assortment and new products.” He would not confirm that this new technology is Ku-band detection.
Other suppliers, Beltronics and Whistler, said they were not aware of a new Ku-band police gun prototype.
Fohres said he could not name the radar gun manufacturer planning to offer a prototype Ku gun due to a confidentiality agreement. He cautioned that even if the prototype is created, it is possible that the supplier may decide not to bring it to market.
The Ku band is currently in use in parts of Europe, and companies such as Beltronics offer Ku-band protection overseas.
“Ku band is not a difficult technology to capture,” said Gary Oppito, executive VP for Beltronics and Escort. He said the new technology could lead to a wave of consumer upgrading if it comes to market in the United States.
Fohres also said another new police technology is now available, which could prove a challenge to radar detector suppliers in the future. This is the laser picture gun that combines a police laser gun with a digital still camera. One supplier of the guns, Kustom Signals, Lenexa, Kan., explained that its LaserCamII provides a photo of the vehicle and license plate number as well as a date, time and speed stamp.
“That is the biggest threat to radar detector manufacturers,” Fohres said.
But Kustom Signals points out that police use of laser picture guns is very limited at present because most cities and states do not allow the issuing of speeding tickets by mail, which is the primary incentive for police to buy the guns.
As for current radar detector technology, Whistler is shipping two new models this month, including one of the first cordless units with built-in rechargeable batteries and “always-on” capability. Model 1788 ships with a 12-volt and home battery recharger. It offers full-band coverage, including POP, and it has a blue back-lit LCD text display. The 1788 has a suggested retail price of $199.95.
Also from Whistler is one of the first motorcycle radar detectors. The new Cruisader is water resistant with an ultra-small design. It offers full-band and POP detection and has an LED that flashes for visual notification. The unit also displays the temperature in a blue backlit LCD. It can mount almost anywhere on the motorcycle and has a wireless helmet option. The Cruisader will ship in August at a suggested retail price of $399.95.
Beltronics and Escort said they are offering a few modifications in their 2005 lineups, including a 50 percent boost in laser sensitivity and improved POP-response time.
Cobra said it is planning a new line in 2006.
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