SEMA has always been about tricked out cars, big rims and body kits. But, like the rest of the industry, SEMA is amping up in-car and under-the-hood tech too. In our episode, we covered some really neat entrants at the show, but there was more, much more--and we aren't talking about booth babes. LOCAL MOTORS UPDATES

Local Motors Rally Fighter and "The Forge"

Local Motors, which you may remember from a previous episode, was in attendance, showing off some upgrades to their Rally Fighter. Among numerous suspension upgrades, the rear gets a new four-link suspension to replace the older three-link. This should make jumping dunes even better.

Local Motors didn't stop there. They also announced a web-based development platform called "The Forge." Think of it like a CAD system that will allow anyone to utilize Local Motors design tools. This takes collaborative design to the next level, similar to what Google Sketchup has done for online 3D modeling.

INVADER TC3

Tanom Motors Invader TC-3

Another wild entry to SEMA is Tanom Motors' Invader TC-3. You may remember seeing it at last year's SEMA, but that version was only a concept. This year it's production ready.

This reverse tricycle isn't just some slow urban commuter; it has the potential to be the future of performance driving. A 194 hp, 1.3-liter turbo 4-cyl can shoot this futuristic trike to 60 mph in fewer than four seconds. Also, it should get great fuel economy due to its small displacement and low weight. Autoblog reports that the car will cost somewhere around $43,000. We can't wait.

Clemson Deep Orange Interface

Clemson University Deep Orange 2

Clemson University came to SEMA showing not just a car, but also an in-car interface. Using a large tablet-sized multi-touch screen in the dash of Deep Orange 2, Clemson students have created a customizable interface that can communicate with both the car's entertainment and HVAC systems. The best part--especially for you tinkerers--is that you can place whichever objects on the main screen as you'd like. Allowing the user to customize their own digital dash could potentially minimize confusion typically associated with in-car infotainment systems.

Going a step further, the students have installed an Xbox Kinect camera to read the user's gestures, potentially making touch entirely obsolete. Imagine using gestures to control the functions of the car. Not only could it be safer than reaching for controls in the center stack, but also could be used in conjunction with voice commands. Touchscreen infotainment systems are currently all the rage, but speech and gestures may be the future of interfacing with our cars.

SEMA may be about wild concepts from major carmakers, but it allows a different perspective; we get to see how smaller companies or independent engineers and designers see the future.


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