IN the game of leapfrog that pits makers of law-enforcement radar guns against developers of radar detectors, there’s a new wrinkle: detectors that link with smartphones to broadcast a speed trap’s location to other drivers.
Community reporting of road hazards and accidents is not new to mobile phones, and apps like Trapster and Waze let drivers manually report speed guns. But a new wave of radar detectors displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show here this month takes the idea one step further by automating the reporting process.
Reports from radar detectors made by Cobra Electronics are shared using the app iRadar Community; Escort and its sister company, Beltronics, use Escort Live to share the information. A map on the phone shows other drivers where the speed guns are, especially useful to drivers who may encounter laser or instant-on radar guns that offer little advance warning of their presence.
Though the detectors do similar tasks, there are differences in their operation. Cobra units use built-in Bluetooth to link with smartphones. The iRadar detector and app, available for iPhone or Android, is $130.
Units from Escort and Beltronics require a separate cable called the SmartCord Live to add the automation, which works with seven models of detectors from as far back as 2006. The cord is $80; an Escort Live subscription, at $40 a year, is required.
One advantage of the automated reporting is that remote computers can sift though the alerts to help eliminate false alarms. For instance, Cobra says, if detectors consistently got an alert in the same spot at all times of day, the system would classify it as false and eliminate it from maps.
The products are similar enough to have prompted a lawsuit, filed by Escort in United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, charging that Cobra infringed two patents and violated the terms of a previous patent suit settlement. Cobra filed to have the case dismissed.
Sharing Where Speed Traps Lie – The New York Times