Mobile Electronics Magazine March/April 2021

Page 50

 tech today

Vehicle Safety: Dashcams and DVR Systems Educate your clients on how they can protect themselves and their vehicles with dashcam and DVR systems. WORDS BY DAVE MACKINNON

Equipping a car or truck with a dashcam or Digital Video Recording (DVR) system goes a long way toward improving how that vehicle is operated. Whether it’s for a personal application or in a corporate environment, if the driver knows everything he or she does is being recorded, the chances of aggressive or dangerous driving will be dramatically reduced. Better driving behavior directly translates into reduced accidents. What is a Dashcam? A dashcam is a compact digital video recording system designed to be mounted to the front windshield of a vehicle. These compact all-in-one systems have a wide-angle camera that faces forward to record what happens in front of the vehicle while it’s in operation. Most dashcam solutions include a microphone that will capture audio from within the vehicle or the sound of screeching tires, car horns and so forth. Some systems include a secondary camera. This second camera may be placed on or near the top of the windshield to record motion and behavior

50  Mobile Electronics March/April 2021

inside the vehicle or on the rear window of the car, truck or SUV to record what happens behind the vehicle. These systems are tied into the ignition circuit of the vehicle so it begins recording audio and video as soon as the vehicle is started. Most manufacturers provide cameras with a cigarette lighter-style power plug, but some offer a dedicated hard-wire harness with power and ground connections. What is a Digital Video Recording System? While a dashcam is a type of digital video recording system, a true DVR solution typically involves a dedicated control module that would be mounted under a seat or in the cargo area. These systems typically have inputs for up to four cameras. Premium models might have inputs for door pins, seatbelt status, turn signals or brake lights. Whereas a dashcam is typically designed as a consumer-grade product, a dedicated DVR system is targeted at commercial applications and requires professional installation and configuration.

Accelerometers and GPS Information The majority of mobile electronics retailers will focus on mid-level to premium dashcam models. As such, many systems include a built-in three-axis accelerometer and a GPS antenna. The accelerometer captures G-force information as the vehicle is operated. Peaks in forward or rearward G’s can indicate heavy acceleration or braking. High lateral G-forces indicate high-speed cornering or aggressive maneuvers. Many recording systems include built-in event triggers that are configurable to mark incidents of high G-forces for easy review at a later date. When equipped with a GPS antenna, two crucial pieces of information are captured: vehicle speed and location. The location information allows the person reviewing the video footage to pinpoint the vehicle’s location on a map. Most software suites provided with a dashcam or DVR automatically overlay the vehicle location onto an image from Google Maps or a similar service. Many dashcams will embed the longitude and latitude coordinates along with the vehicle speed and the local date and time right into