LAS VEGAS — Okay, the tricked-out, “Cobraized” sports car will get the most attention. But Cobra’s new line of GPS and radar-detector products shows that the latest round in the war between motorists and traffic authorities is heating up.
I wrote in Popular Mechanics a while back about the growing trend of revenue-hungry localities to implement red-light cameras and speed cameras, and that’s a trend that has continued in the ensuing years. But now Cobra is integrating its own proprietary — and, they say, verified — database of red-light and speed cameras into its new GPS and radar-detector products. With one of these, you’ll get a warning icon and (unless you shut it off) an audio warning (it sounds like a digital camera’s shutter sound) as you approach a red-light or speed camera. Cobra’s David Marsh demonstrated the GPS to me, and it looked quite easy to use. Cobra’s database also integrates “black zones” — intersections or stretches of roads where accident rates are unusually high — and warns users of those, too.
Marsh told me that Cobra is also working on making its devices easier to use for aging baby boomers and others with less-than-perfect eyesight, making sure that text is large and crisp, and that buttons are big and easy to push. Good design guidelines for every product, regardless of demographic. Cobra’s GPS, the GPSM5000, is already on the market. Its GPS-integrated radar detector, the XRS 9950, will be out in March.— Glenn Reynolds