If your car is your pride and joy you'll know the annoyance of returning to it after a shopping trip to find that some imbecile has opened their door onto yours or carelessly parked and left a dent and a scrape. And let's face it, if they're careless enough to ding your door they're hardly going to leave their details and an apology.
For some, that would be enough to park at the far end of a lot just to avoid other cars. For Victor Lortz, it was enough for him to invent a gadget to catch them red-handed.
Victor's electronic watchdog uses a car's sensors to detect when someone has bashed it. This triggers the vehicle's in-car cameras, which records the careless driver pulling away.
Obviously, not all cars have external cameras just yet, but this is why Lortz has been testing the system with an Infiniti EX35, which uses all-around cameras for help when parking. The system uses compression and uploading hardware from an Intel Atom chip, like you might find in a netbook PC. With sufficient wireless reception, the data recorded on-board can be streamed or archived to the cloud.
It can even send live footage to your smartphone as it happens, if your phone uses near-field communication technology.
There are privacy issues to overcome, as with any monitoring technology. Cryptographic software should ensure data privacy, as will an "opt-in" policy. Although the technology isn't available yet, Lortz says that it's a showcase for integrated cars, more of which are appearing on the market all the time.
Having your car hit when you're nowhere near it is annoying and invariably means having to pay for repairs from your own pocket. Lortz explains why his device will be so popular.
"This service resonates with people... it empowers them."