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Alarms Get Voice-Recognition, Passive-Disarming Technologies

Voice-recognition technology will make its debut in car security systems at Winter CES, where price points on anti-code-grabbing security systems will trickle down to suggested retail price points below $200. Crimestopper and Omega Research, in its Pearson line, plan to demonstrate voice-recognition technology, and Directed Electronics will bring anti-code-grabbing down to the $200 level.

Also at the show:

* Omega and Crimestopper will demonstrate passive-arming/passive-disarming systems, a type of system that suppliers have been struggling for years to perfect.

* And many dealers will get their first look at “plug-and-play” T-harnesses that enable dealers to install many alarm components in specific car models without cutting a factory wire. They’re available from Audiovox, Magnadyne, Omega Research and Whistler, which plans to expand its line at WCES.

Here’s what many suppliers are introducing at WCES. All prices are suggested retails, uninstalled.

Alpine: Three new models include the SEC-8027, featuring two two-button remotes, anti-code-grabbing circuitry, and a new dual-stage impact sensor. The step-up SEC-8057 adds a new dual-sector radar sensor that draws one-third less current than its predecessor. The SEC-8058 adds two more accessory outputs to the two accessory outputs of the SEC-8057, and it includes an armed output allowing for closed-loop protection of one external accessory.

Alpine is also introducing remote-control activation of a second radar sensor, which could be installed in a truck bed and activated only when cargo is inside. Pricing was unavailable.

Audiovox: The Prestige Platinum line of $230 to $350 systems and Prestige Platinum Plus line of $250 to $400 systems are being displayed. The Prestige PRO 9449, available in March, will come with an owner’s manual on audio cassette.

Avital: The company started delivering the $350 AllStart Engine-Starting System. It also plans to introduce a paging accessory, the 5809, at $130. In targeting a new market segment, Avital plans to introduce the On-Guard 3-1000 at $130. It’s a consumer-installable security system offering remote-control adjustment of the vibration and impact sensor. Another new system, the AMX44, is designed to be added to a factory keyless-entry system to control all added security features. It is targeted to the expediter market. Pricing was unavailable.

Crimestopper: The company is incorporating voice-recognition technology in three systems.

The $379 CS-9711VRT works like this: After using the supplied RF remote to unlock the doors, the driver has 15 seconds to speak his or her password before a siren and starter kill are triggered. If someone opens the car door without using the remote, the siren triggers immediately. With this system, said president Howard Miller, “you don’t have to worry about code grabbers or code scanners” defeating the starter kill feature. It’s due in January along with a HiPro version.

The $499 CS-9715VRTP adds passive arming/disarming and a paging system. The owner-carried pager incorporates a transceiver that communicates with an in-car transceiver. When the owner gets within two to 10 feet of either side of the car (depending on system adjustments), the doors automatically unlock. The owner has 15 seconds to get inside and speak a password to enable the car to start. If a door is opened and the pager isn’t nearby, the system’s siren triggers immediately.

Crimestopper’s 9715 pager also features buttons permitting RF-remote operation of two accessory functions such as trunk pop.

The in-car transceiver emits inaudible (even to dogs) 45kHz audio signals continuously. When the transceiver carried by the driver is within range, it detects the audio signal and transmits its own signal back to the car. The in-car transceiver transmits an audio signal because, unlike a continuous RF signal, it draws little current, Miller said. In the past, other passive arming/disarming systems emitted continuous RF and killed batteries, he claimed. Crimestopper’s third voice-recognition system, the $149 CS-8010 VRI, is a starter-kill-only system with horn alert and output for an optional siren. The owner has 15 seconds to speak a password after a door opens before the horn or siren sounds. A version with a second output is $159. All three are available as HiPro models and can be trained to recognize up to four voices.

Directed Electronics: In an effort to bring anti-code-grabbing features to a broader range of consumers, Directed is adding its Code Hopping technology to Viper, Python and Sidewinder products at no additional cost. “DEI will offer this desired feature at an MSRP of $199,” said a spokesman. Remote starts are also on the agenda, with the Viper 550 HF targeting previously unreached consumers at a suggested retail of less than $450.

Omega : The parent company of CrimeGuard, Excalibur, Executive and Pearson Research Group offers the widest assortment of T-harnesses to date. The T-harnesses are customized for all models of Ford, GM, Chrysler vehicles, and most imports. Under the new Pearson name, targeted direct to value-added electronics specialists, Omega will demonstrate a prototype passive-arming/passive-disarming systems due to ship in February.

The $100 Immobilizer, a starter kill without sensors or siren, incorporates a transceiver mounted in the car and a companion transceiver in the driver’s key fob. When the driver enters the car and turns the ignition on, the in-car transceiver transmits an RF request to the key fob for identification. If the response doesn’t come, the system’s normally closed starter-kill relay swings into action to open the car’s starter circuit. The low-range, low-power key fob transmitter transmits a signal only when it receives an ID request from the car’s transceiver. The key fob transmitter doesn’t need a battery because it gets power from stray RF energy that it collects to charge a capacitance section, said Omega’s senior sales director Geoff Allen. The system is due in February, and a full-fledged passive-arming/passive-disarming security system is in development for an April MES introduction.

Also in the Pearson line, the company is introducing a voice-recognition option to increase security and simplify system operation, Allen said. It will be displayed in breadboard fashion and is expected to ship at MES.

Here’s how it works: For an additional, as-yet undetermined charge, the purchaser of a Pearson system gets a remote transmitter programmed by the dealer to recognize only one person’s voice commands. The customer decides what they want to say to remotely activate up to eight functions, such as arm, disarm, valet, panic, headlight control, and control of other accessories such as motorized amplifier rack. When a consumer wants to enter their car, they simply speak a one-word command into the transmitter’s microphone, and the transmitter emits the appropriate RF command to the alarm system.

Ungo: The company, purchased by Clarion early last year, plans to introduce the Millennium Series of full-featured systems, said to be easy to program, install and use. The MS9000, MS7000 and MS5000 feature patented LogicSensor motion/ impact detectors, an integrated variable-level anti-carjack feature, and pack more auxiliary outputs and onboard relays than previous lines. The line is intended for installing specialists. Pricing wasn’t available. In addition, Ungo plans to expand its accessory line to include a new remote start and devices designed to interface with OEM systems.

President Clinton may have given radar-detector suppliers a selling point now that he has signed a bill lifting all federal speed-limit restrictions. Many of this year’s crop of radar detectors will include safety radar technology designed to warn motorists of road hazards or speeding emergency vehicles. And with less opportunity to respond to emergency situations when they’re driving faster, motorists will need the extra measure of protection that safety radar will provide.

Addressing this opportunity, all the major players plan to offer detectors incorporating one or both of the existing warning technologies: Safety Alert, developed by Cobra and Escort, and the Safety Warning System (SWS), which is promoted by Bel-Tronics, Sanyo Tecnica, Uniden and Whistler.

Pricing is expected to be affordable enough to quickly seed cars with the technology. Whistler, for example, plans to introduce two low-price models incorporating both technologies at suggested retails of $59 and $79. These versions will provide a unique LED alert to warn motorists of a hazard, but unlike more expensive models, they won’t warn the motorist of the type of hazard ahead.

During WCES, the SWS group hopes to announce the name or names of companies that will make SWS transmitters and market them to public safety and public works agencies and other organizations. The results of discussions between the two industry groups to agree on a common format might also be announced. SWS proponents said their system provides longer range as well as many more potential hazard warnings: up to 64, although only 45 different messages have been agreed upon for now. Also at the show, battery-operated detectors will proliferate.

Here’s what the suppliers are scheduled to introduce. All prices are suggested retails.

B.E.L-Tronics: Two battery/cordless models include the $330 945i integrated laser/radar detector with front and rear laser detection. For motorcycles, it will show the $350 945iM, which offers the same features as the 945i plus an earphone and reflector.

New for 1996 will be the 500 and 700 series upgrades. The 500 series is targeted to the mass merchant distribution channel; the 700 series is aimed at value-added retailers. Prices range from $100 to $140 for the 500 series and from $170 to $200 for the 700 series. All B.E.L-Tronics models are capable of differentiating SWS and Safety Alert transmissions from police radar-gun transmissions. The 800 series radar/laser detectors add SWS voice and text warnings. Scheduled for delivery in late spring, they’ll be priced at $230 to $330 for distribution to autosound specialists and other value-added dealers.

Cobra: The company will carry over its RDL 712SW, introduced in late 1994 with Safety Alert at $150 and featuring an LCD display. New models will include the RDL 216SWS at $130 with Safety Alert, the $200 RDL 8000SWS with Safety Alert and battery operation, and the $200 RD 355SWR, a remote detector with Safety Alert. Code 3, the largest manufacturer of emergency-vehicle lightbars, is distributing Safety Alert transmitters to emergency-vehicle organizations. The company is also distributing transmitters to road construction crews, public utilities, and the like.

Cobra also plans to display a prototype of a safety-only warning receiver lacking speed-gun detection.

Sanyo Tecnica: It wasn’t certain at press time that the company would show SWS receivers, but it is showing its $100 entry-level Cosmo 800 radar/laser detector, the step-up $150 Cosmo 1000 with immunity from VG-2 detection, and the premium $170 Cosmo 2000 — which offers the Cosmo 1000 but adds rear laser detection.

Uniden: The company plans to introduce three SWS models. The first model is the $190 LRD6400SW with 360-degree laser detection, a fifth warning tone for SWS, and an additional set of LED indicators to indicate stationary or moving hazards. It ships in the second quarter. The $230 LRD6499SW adds a 12-character alphanumeric display that spells out the type of hazard and indicates the relative signal strength of the warning. Target date for shipment is the early third quarter. The $290 LRD6599SW, also due in the third quarter, contains all the features of the LRD6499SW plus voice alert to enunciate the text version of a warning. Uniden is also showing product introduced in the fourth quarter of last year.

Whistler: New laser/radar models include the $350 2290 remote, $79 945, and $59 925 — all capable of differentiating SWS and Safety Alert signals from radar signals. The 925 comes with a three-segment signal-strength LED display, pulse protection, city and mute modes, visor bracket, and a straight cord. The 945 adds superwideband Ka-band detection, integrated front and rear laser protection, VG-2 Cloaking Technology, and a four-segment signal strength LED display. Shipments for both are planned to begin in May 1996. The 2290 remote, on the other hand, is due in April, with superwideband detection, VG-2 Cloaking, and both safety technologies. Whistler said it is the only remote available with front and rear laser detection. The 2290 also offers an optional second antenna for long-range radar detection from behind.

–Rick Truesdell

With Crimestopper’s CS911VRT, a car won’t start until the owner speaks a password after entering the car.

The Prestige Platinum Plus line from Audiovox features remotes in up to five colors and finishes.

Whistler’s new radar detectors are capable of differentiating SWS and Safety Alert hazard-warning signals from police radar signals.

The Immobilizer in Omega’s Pearson line is a passive-arming/passive-disarming starter-kill system.