Forbes.com
Alcohawk uses an oxide semiconductor sensor to analyze a three-second breath sample, and results are delivered via a digital display. Alcohawk measures blood alcohol content in increments from 0.00 to 0.40 percent (the legal limit is 0.08 percent).
updated 10/4/2005 7:25:08 AM ET 2005-10-04T11:25:08

You have to look hard to find a new car with manual roll up windows these days. Automatic, electric windows were once the height of automotive luxury — imagine, windows that roll up themselves — but now, the phrase "roll up the windows" is becoming as much of an anachronism as "dial the telephone number."

Such is the progress of automotive technology. Each new thing is introduced as a novelty, then it becomes a necessity.

One need only look in the options lists of modern vehicles to see the amenities that will be taken for granted in ten years: Bluetooth phone connections, navigation systems, radar and laser sensors that monitor the perimeter of the car.

In fact, I'll make a prediction: In six years' time, no new car will come without at least an optional navigation system. Much the same way cell phones started as a novelty, then progressed to a necessity, Global Positioning System technology has that magic combination of utility and a quality that I'll call "price-droppingness" (since the English language doesn't seem to have an appropriate adjective yet) that will one day fold navigation systems into the basic experience of driving.

These things are add-ons now but will become deal-breakers for autos of the future. But there is a curious difference with the gadgets that are just finding their way into vehicles today: Most of them can be bought in the aftermarket and added on to the vehicles of those poor unfortunates who, due to either lack of funds or bad timing, missed out on technological revolution that brought forth these niceties. And often times, the aftermarket electronics offer functionality, flexibility and affordability that factory-installed technologies just can't match.

Here we take a moment to investigate the variety of easy add-ons already on or coming to the market that can take an ordinary ho-hum vehicle and give it amazing (sometimes frightening) new powers.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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