Merging motors and microchips, Tag Heuer creates the first digital analog watch
The main dial can show either the time of day or the elapsed time in a race.
Smaller dials indicate the mode and count off tenths of seconds.
TO MAKE ITS Aquaracer Calibre S chronograph both elegant and easy to read, Tag Heuer tore out the antique gearing that limits a watch’s hands to one function each and replaced it with a programmable microprocessor that controls five independent electric motors, one for each hand. That allows it to do things analog watches never could.A traditional chronograph uses a main dial to display the time of day and three squinty-small dials to record elapsed time in a race. On the Aquaracer, the main dial does both—switching between standard clock and stopwatch at the push of a button. The hands can even run backward during the 10-minute countdown before a regatta. All timekeeping happens in the chip, which can instruct the hands to move to any position, anytime.
Many other computer-controlled watches are possible, such as a travel model that, at the turn of a dial, displays the time and date in any of 24 cities—one for every time zone. So now, instead of having to machine new gears whenever they want to revise the design of a timepiece, Tag Heuer engineers simply write a few lines of code. Finally, a watch that satisfies both your inner geek and your stylist.
The LEXUS LS 600h L watches both you and the road ahead.
WITH IPODS, GPS systems and actual humans vying for your attention, it’s easy to get distracted while driving. The 2008 Lexus LS 600h L keeps you focused by spotting obstacles ahead, making sure your gaze doesn’t wander, and even helping you maneuver around hazards. To see if it works, I tried repeatedly to crash the V8 hybrid luxury sedan—into traffic cones. Here are the three techniques it used to thwart all of them. -- -- Dan Carney.
ENGINE : 5-liter V8 gasoline/electric hybrid
HORSEPOWER : 438
FUEL ECONOMY : 20 mpg city/22 mpg highway (est.)
SENSE OBSTACLES AHEAD
THE CLAIM: Radar warns if you’re about to hit a solid obstacle, such as another car, and infrared cameras scan the road for objects like people and animals.
THE TEST: Lacking a live volunteer, I couldn’t test the infrared,but I tried the radar on foil-wrapped traffic cones.
THE REAL DEAL: I charged ahead at 50 mph, letting off the gas when an alert beeped but not hitting the brakes. With a crash looming, the car tightened the seatbelts and applied
the brakes at about 40 percent force—enough to ease my smack into the cone but not enough to risk a rear-ender..
KEEP AN EYE ON YOU
THE CLAIM: A camera in the steering column watches to see if you’re facing forward. If the infrared or radar sensors detect an impending obstacle while your head is turned, the
car flashes a light, sounds a buzzer, and taps the brakes.
THE TEST: Approaching the cones again at 50 mph,I turned to chat with my passenger.
THE REAL DEAL: The collision alert sounded sooner than it had when I was facing ahead. Even better, I got no false alarms while turning my head to scan the stop-and-go traffic on the drive back from the test track.
HELP YOU CRANK THE WHEEL
THE CLAIM: The car will help you swerve away from danger. If the computer sees a hazard ahead, it engages a different set of gears in the steering rack to swing the car around with fewer turns of the wheel.
THE TEST: I drove a slalom course at 50 mph both with and without foil-wrapped cones placed in my path.
THE REAL DEAL: The car became hyper-nimble when an obstacle loomed on the slalom but steered normally on an unobstructed course, and it held rock-steady while zooming on an open track at 130 mph.