Emergency USB Charging Solutions for EMTs and Firetrucks

fire truck at night

An emergency can strike at any time. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all crisis situation. From personal incidents like a house fire, to life-threatening medical emergencies, and even protracted natural disasters, emergency situations come in all shapes and sizes. First responders such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and the fire department employ a wide variety of life and property saving tools and devices that provide emergency relief. Those devices, however, need a reliable power source. Here are the top five reasons to install a dual port USB charger in your fleet of emergency vehicles.

1. Ensure Communications

Emergency situations are no time to lose contact with your team, your dispatcher, the hospital, or other local agencies like the police. Mounting a dual port USB charger in your fire truck or ambulance gives you a way to charge a variety of wireless communications devices directly off the vehicle’s battery so that your communications tools never run out of the essential power that they need to keep first responders connected.

2. Power Lifesaving Equipment

Hand-held, lifesaving equipment is an essential tool for emergency response personnel, especially EMTs. Thermometers, ultrasound devices, defibrillators, and cutting tools are all necessary emergency equipment that can be charged off of USB-A or USB-C connections. A reliable power source can help first responders meet critical, life-saving emergencies head on, armed with the right tools.

3. Enable GPS Navigation

Responding to an emergency is pointless if first responders can’t find the emergency site. Devices like laptops, tablets, GPS and cell phones all equipped with GPS capabilities can help guide first responders to the location without fear of losing battery charge from power-hungry satellite applications.

4. Provide Updated Information and Alerts

An emergency situation can change rapidly. Crises, especially naturally disasters, evolve dramatically over time. Emergency personnel in the field might not always be aware of incoming danger until it’s too late. By installing a dual port USB charger in your emergency response vehicles, you give first responders the ability to keep important devices well-supplied with power, helping mitigate potential disasters in the process.

5. Triage Remotely with Emergency Healthcare Facilities

Emergency responders use mobile devices, tablets, and laptops to maintain active communication with hospitals and other emergency providers as they transport people. Emergency room personnel need a complete medical picture in order to provide the best critical care possible upon arrival. A mounted USB charging option allows first responders to maintain continuous contact with healthcare providers as they prepare to administer life saving measures.

Reliable, On-site Charging Options

Emergency situations evolve at a rapid pace. First responders need to move quickly in order to prevent loss of life and mitigate property damage. In order to do so, they need to employ cutting-edge, lifesaving tools and devices, and those devices have to be ready at a moment’s notice. There’s no margin of error.

With a dual port USB charger installed in your emergency response vehicles, your first responders never have to worry about running out of precious battery life for their most important tools. The 75 watt charger features both a USB-A and USB-C type charger to ensure that you can charge every one of your devices without any issues. The Chargeit! Unit is built for tough terrain and comes with easy mount flanges, and a durable metal housing. The 75 watt dual charger comes with the 2-pin phoenix connector which provides a variable DC input running from 7 to 24 volts, a 12v automotive option, or a 24 volt industrial option.

Contact Coolgear to learn more about our in-vehicle charging options, including the Chargeit! 75 watt unit, and let us help determine the right solution for your first responder’s needs.

Police Vehicles: 6 Reasons Why Every Police Vehicle Needs an In-Vehicle Charging Solution

police vehicle charging

Vehicle Charging Series Map


Keeping mobile devices alive inside a vehicle is something the police force is more than familiar with. Radios, computers,  and cupholder-warmers alike are mainstays of every police vehicle from neighborhood squad cars to the highway patrol. But as mobile technology evolves, so too do the way police connect with devices.

While cop cars are all equipped with powered computers and support features, the new market for gadgets and the new requirements for high-tech law enforcement make USB a must-have. One of the essentials is high-speed USB charge ports inside your vehicle.  In-vehicle charging stations provide more than just another spot to charge an iPhone. Here are the six substantial reasons why every police vehicle should have USB charging ports:

1. Universal Usefulness Factor

The first and perhaps most profound argument is simple usefulness. Cops carry certain equipment because it’s useful all the time, in so many everyday situations that you might as well have one or more with every police team. Flashlights, for example. Most police vehicles also have cargo nets or belts and often a handful of quarters. Why? Because they can solve problems in a variety of non-violent situations.

USB charge ports fall into the same rule. There are so many instances where being able to quickly charge, recharge, or maintain power to a mobile device is useful in modern policing. It’s a tool that every one of your officers could think of a different use-case example for.

2. Police Device Flexibility and Adaptability

Modern police forces also need to be flexible in the devices they can and do use on the job.  Not only are police forces across the country upgrading their in-vehicle, in-office, and line-of-duty technology, but officers also encounter technology in everyday situations. But charge ports without integral assigned purposes allow your officers the flexibility to power almost any modern portable device. From phones to appliances to K9 tech, a few open ports provide a great deal of adaptability.

3. Emergency On-Site Phone Recharging

When a police vehicle responds to an emergency, there’s a higher-than-usual percent chance that a dead cellphone will factor in. A driver or passenger in a car accident may need to recharge their phone to call loved ones for assistance and information. During an arrest, or even to prevent an arrest, phones can be recharged to help those involved retrieve information, photos, or phone numbers needed to resolve the situation. Citizens who are lost or stranded can also often be restored to independence by bringing their phones back to life.

On-site phone recharging alone is a community service that can resolve many accident-site problems.

4. Investigation of Devices On-Site

Devices that are found in the course of an investigation are often dead. The devices have been lost, dropped, or abandoned by the owners due to the results of a crime or other unfortunate circumstances. With the right warrants and permissions, police are sometimes able to use found devices on-site to aid an investigation. Having USB charge ports inside the police vehicle makes it possible to bring these found devices to life and gain any information that is immediately available, and possibly to begin a deeper investigation if the owner of the device (or their guardian) is present to grant permission on-site.

5. Lost Device Recovery

Phones are found by good samaritans and left with the police all the time. Verification of ownership is important when the police return a phone to its owner. In many cases, the best way to do this is to turn on the phone and have the owner unlock it or give the correct lockscreen information without being shown. If an officer is called to return a device on-site and needs to verify, being able to recharge dead phones will come in handy.

6. Community Recharge Services

Finally, there’s the simple fact that recharge ports inside police vehicles can become community recharging stations. From giving someone a ride home to resolving a problem without a mandatory report, having a USB charging solution on-site can really come in handy. Phones and other mobile devices have become so integral to modern life that keeping them alive is a real concern.  Being able to recharge on-site has risen to the place of a true community service. Whenever the time is right, your officers will know when to provide recharging services as a form of problem-solving that encourages citizens to help themselves.

Here at Coolgear, we are dedicated to providing practical, high-quality technical upfitting services. That’s why we developed the CHARGEIT! Mini,  high-speed USB charge port that is integrally powered by the vehicle. For police officers, the fast-charging USB C and USB A station will provide a universal and flexible source of power for anything with a USB port. Whether you’re helping citizens recharge to call their loved ones or powering a new police device that doesn’t have an integral mount yet, these ports are sure to solve more than a few problems in the high-tech years to come.

Contact us for more police vehicle upfitting insights or to talk about USB charging solutions for your police fleet.

RV and Van Life: Why In-Vehicle Device Charging is a Must-Have for RV Fun and Safety

RV Van Life

Van Life is a trend that is catching fire with today’s population, young and old. Whether you’re setting out for an RV adventure or refitting a van to become your new foundation-free home, technology is going to matter. No matter how rustic you like to rough it, a whole lifestyle of travel is one filled with mobile devices and cool wireless gadgets. And those gadgets need charging.

That’s why every RV and converted van needs to have a few integral USB fast-charging ports powered directly from the engine. One little cigarette-lighter port just won’t do anymore. Not when every passenger has three personal devices and camping can now be super-powered with USB gadgets. That’s why we created the Coolgear CHARGEIT! Mini, a USB C and USB A fast charger that is powered directly from the vehicle.  USB charging is not just essential for fun and comfort, it’s also important for modern road safety. Let’s take a closer look at how integral USB charging can transform your Van Life experience for the better:


Keeping Phones and Tablets Alive

Today’s travel adventures feature at least once device for every traveler, sometimes as many as five or six individual USB-charged devices. Phones, tablets, laptops, portable speakers, iPods, medical devices, and more can all be an essential part of your high-tech road trip. Those extra high-speed charging ports will keep everyone topped-up and happy, whether you’re playing trivia games or all doing your own thing as the miles roll by.


Powering Your Nav and Tunes

Check the devices in almost any RV or converted van and you’ll find two things every time: navigation and music. Chances are, you’ve already mounted a phone or tablet on the dash and probably equipped your passenger with a device or two as well. All just to enable your navigation (and searches for gas and fast food along the way) and playing your favorite music (or podcasts) on the road.

Unless your RV’s integral computer and screen are really good, you’ll want mobile devices for that, and those devices will need power. Building more USB power into your RV or van is essential for never seeing your nav-map die in the middle of nowhere or hearing your tunes cut out as a phone dies.


Emergency USB Power for Emergency Recharges

Of course, no device-owner is perfect. We all forget to charge up sometimes and only realize this error when a charged device is what you need right now. Being able to charge USB devices directly from your vehicle’s engine ensures that you will never have a totally stranded tech emergency. Whatever you need to recharge, from your laptop to your flat-tire flashlight, will be ready within a few minutes with a fast-charge connection.


Upgrade Your Van Life with Portable USB Appliances

One of the hallmarks of a truly awesome van lifestyle is cool portable devices. Fans, cooktop burners, mini-fridges, sound systems, and so much more can be used to really snazz up your travel lifestyle. Why live rustic when you can power all sorts of neat appliances from USB instead? The capabilities of USB appliances have skyrocketed in the last five years and you can reap the benefit. All you need are USB “outlets” built into your van or RV to make it happen.


Provide USB Power to Fellow Travelers

Ever run into a fellow traveler panicking over a dead cellphone? We all have, at one point or another. With extra USB charge ports in your rig, you can do more than lend your phone for a few minutes. You can leave those panicking fellow travelers smiling with phones that are once-again capable of calling for rescue services, pick-up rides, and tow trucks.

You never know when the good deed you can do for the day is just to let someone else charge their phone on your USB ports. Especially if you’re camping and the nearest outlet is miles away.


Power Emergency Flashers and Signal Boosters

Finally, don’t forget the use of high-powered USB ports in a roadside emergency. You can pack some serious flares and flashers that can USB-power in case you ever need to pull the rig over on the highway. A USB port can also power a cell signal booster so that you can call for help even in areas with bad signal, bad weather, and low traffic.

The RV and van lifestyle is something that many families are embracing. Whether you take to the road ever summer or have made the road your permanent home, a few USB upgrades can provide a huge boost to both travel fun and roadside safety. Contact us today to learn more about how to upfit your RV or van for a super-charged life on the road.

Fleet Vehicles: The Vital Importance of In-Vehicle Device Charging for Fleets

RV Van Life

As a business fleet, every vehicle is an extension of the company and a moving workshop for your team. In the modern world, that means device integration. Every fleet vehicle needs navigation and communication up to the current mobile device standards. But you don’t just need integral vehicle upgrades. Your vehicles also need integral high-speed device charging for both the efficiency and safety of your teams when out on the service route.

Here at Coolgear, we specialize in upfitting vehicles with USB technology, so we’ve put a lot of thought into what a business fleet vehicle needs to integrate fully with today’s high-tech business needs. That’s why we created the Coolgear CHARGEIT! Mini, a USB C and USB A fast charger that is powered directly from the vehicle. Whether you provide field services or chauffer execs, let’s take a closer look at what every fleet vehicle has to gain from integral USB device charging:


Keeping Your Team In-Touch at All Times

Your team most likely stays in contact through smartphones, whether you provide them or they are BYOD. These devices are not integral to the vehicle like your nav-screen might be, but they are still essential to daily work. Unfortunately, phone batteries and our own memory to constantly recharge the things can fail.

Charging solutions inside each fleet vehicle ensure that your team can always keep their phones topped-up and their response-time fast.


Provide Power for Adaptable Device Mounts

Many fleet vehicles are upgraded with magnetic adaptable mounts for devices used on the job. Personal phones, work tablets, and mobile computers can all be mounted in the vehicle for optimized use on the road. But that doesn’t keep them charged. For devices that are regularly moved in an out of the vehicle (so cannot be integrally powered), a USB charging solution is your ultimate answer.

Having a few extra USB charge ports and cables in the vehicle ensures that every temporarily mounted device stays charged while in use.


Power Mobile Computers and Work Devices

But even if you don’t mount the device, you may still need charging. Field service technicians, for example, often work with tablets and portable computers for on-site tasks and these devices need to stay powered the entire time technicians are inside a client’s home or office. That means the best time to charge up is on the road.

Charging solutions inside your fleet vehicles ensure that any mobile work devices can stay charged, whether or not they are actually used inside the truck.


Recharge Wireless Hand Tools On the Road

Another tip for technicians is to recharge your wireless hand-tools with USB ports in the vehicle. If, for example, your team works with a wireless drill, stud-finder, or multi-meter on the job, the latest models are often USB-powered. You can use your in-vehicle ports to ensure your drills and multi-meters are powered and ready to go each time your team pulls up to a client’s location.


On-Site Emergency Device Charging

Finally, in-vehicle charging powered by the engine itself ensures that you can always charge devices on-site. From phones to hand-tools, anything found “dead” on the job can quickly be restored to usefulness without having to change out batteries or head back to HQ before the work can get done. In fact, in-vehicle charging can even allow your team to save a client’s bacon if one of your clients happens to have a dead phone on-site with no outlets around.


One cigarette-lighter USB port is not enough for the industrial charging needs of any fleet vehicle. With the vast number of wireless devices used in modern business matters, it doesn’t matter if your fleet vehicles ferry technicians or diplomats. Whether you’re charging power drills or laptop computers, in-vehicle charging solutions are essential for any business fleet. Contact us today to learn more about integral USB charging upgrades for your fleet vehicles.


Vehicle Charging Series Map

  • Fleet Vehicles:
    • The Vital Importance of In-Vehicle Device Charging for Fleets
  • RV and Van Life:
    • Why In-Vehicle Device Charging is a Must-Have for RV Fun and Safety
  • Police Vehicles:
    • X Reasons Why Every Police Vehicle Needs an In-Vehicle Charging Solution
  • EMT and Fire Trucks:
    • The Importance of Device Charging Solutions for Emergency Vehicles
  • Utility Vehicles:
    • Why Every Utility Vehicle Needs In-Vehicle Device Charging

5 Ways to Provide Consultations with Telemedicine

telemedicine usb technology

Telemedicine is one of the best things that has ever happened to medical plans and outpatient care. It is often difficult to get plan members and patients to come in for appointments, especially follow-up appointments and check-ins to keep track of their recovery progress. For those in post-acute care at home or suffering from severe conditions, regular check-ups may not be a viable option. Others simply won’t make appointments or arrive for them because they don’t care to come in or cannot remember to do so.

Telemedicine allows medical care to come to the patient using a combination of wireless and USB technology. Doctors and healthcare providers both can keep tabs on patients and make sure they are recovering according to plan without having to worry when patients don’t check-in or make appointments.

In fact, with modern technology, telemedicine is more versatile and accessible than ever.


Telephone Check-Ins

The most traditional type of telemedicine is the classic phonecall. Just talking on the phone with a patient can reveal a lot to their healthcare providers. Tone and quality of voice can tell a doctor whether the patient is hoarse, if they are feeling strong, and even something of their emotional state which can be affected by their health.

From the telephone, patients can report their symptoms, ask for advice, and discuss the progress of their health plan. Doctors also have the opportunity to help patients make appointments or schedule in-home visits.


Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is the natural evolution of the telephone check-in because it solves many of the problems doctors have encountered treating patients over the phone. Both patients and doctors use USB cameras and microphones to connect over cloud video software. Doctors can examine skin tone, clarity of the eyes, and match visual to audio cues to determine how a patient at home is progressing. They can let a patient know when they seem to be at risk of becoming ill or relapsing and they can confirm that patients are genuinely doing better not just say they are doing better.

Video conferencing through cloud platforms has transformed telemedicine and is now the primary way to provide medical consultations and care from a distance.


Live Chat Consultation

However, non-video and even non-voice communication has its own essential uses in modern telemedicine. Live chat has become an incredibly useful way for patients, their families, and their care providers to stay in touch with doctors and health plans. Live chat provides a quick, easy, and low-connectivity way to ask questions and get answers.

Through live chat, patients can get updates on their existing treatment and recovery plan, order their medications, and schedule other services. This is a great telemedicine channel not for actual check-ins, but for all the little communications that patients often put off until they make it to an appointment. Live chat is ideal for helping patients stay on top of an ongoing plan and prevent self-neglect caused by procrastination or lack of answers.


Smart Home Communication

The cherry on top of cutting-edge telemedicine is smart home communication. With the right setup, a patient’s voice-controlled smart home can connect through their phone numbers, internet phones, and health plan mobile apps to keep patients connected without even picking up a device or sitting at a computer. Smart home telemedicine has an incredible amount of potential, most of which has yet to be realized. Patients who are bedridden can talk to their doctors without getting up, and health plan providers can make calls without patients having to reach the phone.

In fact, with a smart homes’ other features like timely reminders and as a voice information resource, they can be programmed to provide patients with automated telemedicine assistance as well as connection to doctors and care providers.

Telemedicine has a long history of helping outpatients manage their own care and doctors stay connected with their patients outside of appointments. And with modern technology, the quality and variety of telemedicine care continues to expand and evolve. Contact us today for more medical communication insights and ways to upgrade your medical practice with USB communication technology.

Safe Charging Is Vital to the Medical USB Infrastructure

USB charging doesn’t always get much attention, but it’s an important part of a medical facility’s IT infrastructure. When employees don’t have adequate options for charging their devices, they may bring in their own cheap chargers or use whatever they find on the road. Charging stations of poor quality and unknown provenance can shorten device life and even endanger security.

The quality of chargers has been steadily increasing, letting users replenish their devices more quickly while maintaining a reliable voltage level. Gallium nitride is one of the newest advances, providing greater efficiency and more compact devices.

When people can leave the medical office with their devices fully charged, they don’t have to hunt for charging stations. They’re less likely to run out of power at an inconvenient time, and they won’t have to expose their employer-issued devices to risky power sources. As with all medical USB devices, insisting on quality pays for itself.

The complexities of charging

It seems that USB charging should be a simple thing. You plug your device in, it draws power, and it charges the battery. In reality, it’s surprisingly complex. With modern USB, a device negotiates the rate it will get power with the source. The USB Power Delivery Specification dictates how this happens, but not all charging ports follow it strictly. Wall chargers typically don’t have any negotiating capability and just deliver 500 mA or less. Some devices require proprietary chargers and won’t draw power from anything else.

The maximum amperage for charging ports depends on the protocol level they support. USB 2 gives a maximum of 500 mA, while USB 3.1 expects devices to make 900 mA available. When both sides can handle it, a device can deliver as much as 5 amperes at 20 volts, i.e., 100 watts.

The USB power specification supersedes Qualcomm’s proprietary Quick Charge, which can deliver up to 20 volts. Traditional devices expect 5 volts. Imitation Quick Charge devices may deliver high power to devices that can’t handle it, risking serious damage or fire.

Drawing more power than a device was designed to take can be wasteful and shorten its life. On the other hand, a needlessly slow charge wastes time. Employees may have to go out with partially charged devices and will need to find a recharge sooner.

USB outlets and security

When security is an issue — for example, with devices holding ePHI — plugging into random USB outlets is risky. Malicious ones can pull information off the device or infect it with malware. The term “juice jacking” refers to attacks through USB charging stations. Some criminals leave chargers loaded with malware in public places. Others have managed to deposit malware into charging stations in shopping malls and airports.

The best approach, from the standpoint of both security and quality, is to use only known, well-made chargers and not let others use them. Carrying a portable charger is safe, not to mention offering more opportunities to plug in. It’s a reasonable investment for employers to include good chargers with devices issued to their staff. In the office, they should have ready access to charging hubs. Replacing old, slow chargers with new, more efficient ones will further improve safety and productivity.

Don’t skimp on hubs and chargers. Good ones safely keep your devices ready to use. Giving medical staff access to them saves them from the temptation of using public chargers or poorly made ones. At the computer, a high-quality hub with surge protection will give users a reliable power source for all their phones and tablets. Ask about all the medical-grade USB devices we have to offer. They’ll give your staff the best experience and protect your investment in equipment.

10 Cutting Edge USB Vehicle Technologies to Make Passengers Feel Like Royalty

Vehicle technology is an incredibly wide band of innovation. From engine efficiency to self-heating cupholders, there’s no end to the ways that driving has been improved in the last twenty years. As connoisseurs of USB technology, we’re especially excited to see the many different ways you can enhance your vehicle with just a few extra ports and a little innovative integration.

Most of the time, we focus on how technology is making life easier for businesses and fleet drivers. We understand just how important it is to have everything at your fingertips and supportive technology to optimize routes. But what if your fleet’s job is to carry passengers? At that point, passenger comfort becomes part of your signature, and USB technology has some incredible potential for transforming your passenger experience.

Let’s take a closer look at the many different ways that cutting-edge USB technology can make your fleet passengers feel like royalty.


Passenger Entertainment

1. Movies: Built-In Passenger Screens

Entertaining your passengers is essential for happy campers on long rides. Especially if your riders are young. Being able to put on a movie, television, or a news broadcast during the drive can truly relax passengers and take their minds from the road. You can do this by integrating backseat screens for your passengers, powered and receiving signal through USB.

This is the perfect opportunity to show off your smart-television technology.

2. Music: Backseat Speakers and Headphones

Not only might your passengers enjoy a surround-sound movie, but they might prefer to relax to some music or an interesting podcast. You can enhance their audio experience beyond the tinny backseat speakers by building a small ring of USB-powered speakers for your passenger’s listening pleasure.

3. Games: Secured Game Consoles

Games are no longer just for kids. A well-placed console and an overtly hung game controller can truly make the day of your passengers, especially if there’s a long ride ahead. A little Mario or Minecraft is enough to lift anyone’s spirits.


Passenger Comfort

4. Warming Seat Covers

There are tons of USB vehicle technologies for making a car more comfortable. Starting with the miracle of the warming seat cover. For fleets in cold regions, your passengers won’t even realize why they’re so happy to be in your vehicle. Warming seat covers powered by USB both make your passengers comfortable and protect your seats from spills.

5. Accent Lights

Want to make the backseat glow like a soft-lit wonderland? Add a few additional LED lights where passengers will enjoy them most. Put a soft strip of lights on the ceiling, add safety lights to the door and footwells, and perhaps provide a small center console light for a little focused backseat illumination.

6. Hot/Cold Cup Holder

One of the best inventions of USB vehicle technology is the hot-cold cupholder. Putting a normal cupholder to use, you can plug in a USB power source and suddenly your passengers can keep their beverages at optimum temperature throughout the ride.

7. Backseat Mini Fridge

If you have room, and one of those fold-down center consoles in the backseat, consider a tiny fridge. Yes, you can USB power a tiny refrigerator with a USB port. At least a fridge large enough to hold a few candy bars and complimentary drinks.


Passenger Convenience

8. USB Charging Station

Finally, there are things that your passenger will find infinitely useful, especially when their running from one appointment to the next. A USB charging station, for example, can be a literal life saver. Help passengers get their phones, tablets, and laptops charged on the road so they don’t have to desperately search for an outlet and fumble with chargers later on.

9. Charging Phone Mount

Passengers may want to mount their phones, and you can provide the perfect spot: a USB-powered charging mount for passenger phones in the back seat.

10. Signal Repeater

Finally, don’t forget your wifi hotspot and a signal repeater. A USB-powered signal repeater can help your passengers get better reception for cell and bluetooth services inside your vehicle. And this alone will make your business passenger fleet stand out.

Want your fleet to be head and shoulders above the rest? Want to build a gold-standard reputation for providing luxurious cutting-edge passenger experiences? USB vehicle technology is the answer. Contact us today for more awesome insights into what vehicle USB upgrades can do for your business fleet.

5 Cool Tech Features Every Company Vehicle Can & Should Have

Fleet Car Tech

Company vehicles are a significant investment. Even leased company vehicles still represent a great deal of time, effort, maintenance, and insurance poured into a single purpose: having vehicles that work for the sole purpose of the company. Whether you are running a service fleet or need passenger vehicles available for corporate purposes, there are more than a few ways to protect your investment and your employee drivers at the same time.

Available vehicle technology is vast, and while everyone has pin-point accurate GPS on their phones, there are a few excellent tech features that every company vehicle should have directly installed before the first employee driver takes it for the first corporate-sponsored spin. These tech upgrades may seem simple on the surface, but you’ll soon realize just why every single company-owned vehicle on the road should have had them included in the after-market installation suite.


1) USB Device Charging Ports

Most vehicles, surprisingly, do not yet come with a rack of USB charging ports yet but they do still sport the traditional cigarette-lighter power source. Installing an after-market USB charging hub is not difficult and you don’t even have to permanently alter the vehicle. All you need is an adapter that morphs the cigarette lighter into a power source for a USB charging hub. Then every one of your employees and any guests or clients you might be transporting can charge their devices in comfort and style. No dead phones in the field ever again.


2) GPS Tracking and Geofencing Alerts

Just because your team members are equipped with GPS-capable devices doesn’t mean the vehicles shouldn’t be as well. There is an endlessly long list of reasons why it’s useful to know where your company cars are at all times, especially if they are not meant to go home with employees. Make sure each of your vehicles has it’s own constantly-powered GPS locator combined with Geofencing.

The GPS allows you to track the vehicles intentionally. The Geofencing will send alerts should one of your company vehicles ever stray outside of your service area. If it’s a planned route, fine. And if it’s an employee gone astray or a stolen vehicle, then you’ve got them on the map the moment it happens.


3) Direct Communication with Dispatch

On-Star and other vehicle safety services made some pretty good points about how useful it is to have a helpful dispatcher able to call into the car at any time. But you don’t need On-Star to do that with today’s smart vehicle technology. It is worth your while to choose one of the many routes to enable direct hands-free communication with dispatch from inside the car. Whether or not an employee’s phone is charged and working.

Whether you embed a hotspot in each vehicle or choose more proprietary technological solutions, giving dispatch the ablity to call in and hold a quick conversation with the driver at any time, and vice versa, can be incredibly useful. Especially in the event of emergencies and other unusual situations where the driver could really use the assistance outside of the normal fleet routine.


4) Authorized Employee Driver Detection

One feature we have seen implemented rarely but ought to be much more popular is authorized employee driver detection. Company vehicles, naturally, should primarily be driven by company employees. Particularly those employees who have been screened and approved as safe and reliable drivers of the company vehicles. Through the use of RFID, smart spoken passwords, or even biometrics, you can implement authorized employee driver detection with surprising ease.

This is a great way to keep track of which driver is in each vehicle and ensure that when a vehicle is powered on, an authorized employee is in the driver’s seat. If they aren’t, that would be a good time for dispatch to chime in and ask what’s going on.


5) Front and Rear Dash Cameras

Finally, every company vehicle should have both front dash cam and a rear camera constantly recording the adventures of the vehicle. Any fleet manager can see the incredible use in having a record of where the vehicles have been and what happened around them. If there is an accident involving the company vehicle or even just witnessed by the vehicle, for example, the company can quickly pull up the feed from the dash cams to get a video record of what happened.

If the GPS data is odd or even if a vehicle is stolen, those front and back cameras will serve as excellent proof of anything that happens (or doesn’t happen) around your company vehicles. This is liability protection for drivers and the company, along with an interesting chance to simply record “day in the life” of a company fleet vehicle.

Interested in optimizing your business fleet with cutting-edge technology and practical protections? Contact us today!


USB4 is coming! What you need to know

Just as USB 3.2 products are coming out, the next generation is on its way. USB4 was announced in March 2019, and the USB4 specification became available in August. Note that it’s “USB4,” not “USB 4.0.” It must be following the trend of names like HTML5.

Products supporting the new version will offer more speed than ever, doubling the bit rate of USB 3.2. To get that speed, you’ll need a cable rated for it. It will have to use a Type-C connector; support for the old Type-A connector is gone.

The evolution of USB

For a quarter of a century, the USB protocol has been one of the most popular ways to connect devices. Its simplicity has helped it to outlast protocols like SCSI and RS-232. The first version appeared in 1995, and it has stressed backward compatibility ever since.

In 2014 the Type-C connector was introduced. It has a smaller profile, making it better suited for thin devices. Also, it’s symmetric and can be plugged in “upside-down” without making a difference. The Type-A connector, following Murphy’s Law, was always the wrong way up on the first try to plug it in.

The newest version which is available on the market is USB 3.2. It was announced in 2017, and devices have become available in 2019.

What’s new in USB4?

The biggest news for USB4 is its convergence with Thunderbolt 3. The specification says that USB4 devices may support Intel’s protocol, which uses the Type-C connector. Support is optional, and the cheapest devices will omit it. Thunderbolt is a proprietary protocol and Intel requires certification, but it doesn’t demand royalties.

USB4 requires a Type-C connector. You’ll be able to connect an older computer to a USB4 device with an adapter, but it will fall back to an older version of the protocol. It isn’t clear at this point whether mini and micro ports will be able to support USB4.

The speed of the new version will double the previous maximum. USB 3.2 Gen2x2 goes up to 20 Gbps, but USB4 will reach 40 Gbps. Achieving this speed will require new cables which are rated for it.

What will you do with all that speed? 20Gbps is plenty for all but the fastest devices. But USB4 supports multiple simultaneous display and data protocols. A USB4 hub will talk to multiple high-speed devices at once at their full speed. Having some older devices in the mix won’t slow it down.

When will it be available?

Before any devices can support USB4, chips have to be available in production quantities. For peripherals to be useful, there have to be computing devices and cables that support it. If any part of the chain isn’t rated for the latest version, communication will fall back to an older one. This makes for a waiting game. Fortunately, some people are eager to adopt leading-edge technology, even if it takes a while to make full use of it.

Some companies have announced development work on USB4 products. The earliest we should expect to see any on the market is the second half of 2020. They’ll probably be widespread before 2021 is over.

What does it mean for engineers?

Product developers have to stay a few steps ahead of currently available technology. The time to start planning for USB4 products is now.

The announcement confirms that Type-A connectors are obsolescent. New computers will all support Type-C to connect to peripherals.

It doesn’t make sense, in the near term, for every device to support USB4. Sticking with older versions will provide plenty of speed for most purposes. Initially, computers and hubs will get the most advantage out of the increased speed and parallelism. Over time, the cost of USB4 will go down and it will become the de-facto standard. By the time that happens, USB5 will undoubtedly be on the horizon.

As new USB products become available, Coolgear will have them. Get in touch with us to learn about all our latest offerings.


The Future of Medical Technology: What New Diseases and Conditions Will Arise?

When it comes to technological advancement, there are always a few unexpected side effects. And while the cons may not outweigh the pros when it comes to technology’s growing pains, they are important to acknowledge, and treat. Especially when you consider that a new frontier of medicine will also, in some ways, create a new frontier of issues we’ll have to deal with.

Virtual Trauma

The goal of virtual reality technology is to immerse us into another world so that everything feels real. Whether it’s being used for entertainment like movies and video games, or for more practical purposes like physical therapy or business meetings, the point is to make someone feel like they’re really there. Even though they aren’t, it tricks the brain into thinking they just experienced something… because that’s all experiences are; electrical impulses fed to our brains via our senses. So even if we are tricking ourselves into feeling things, we still feel them. Which can have repercussions. As an example, realistic enough virtual experiences could still cause people post-traumatic stress. We see this already with military drone operators. Even though the pilots themselves were safely on the ground, they were still flying a combat mission, with all the mental stress and strain that comes with that. Though they were never in any physical danger, that doesn’t mean they didn’t experience something that could still give them a disorder. And as virtual reality grows more advanced, and as it’s used in even more applications, this kind of psychological response may become more common. Because your brain can’t tell the difference between the real world, and the fake world you’ve tricked it into thinking is real, as Medical Futurist points out.

Technological Addiction

Addiction has been an issue for the entire length of human history, and as the experts have so often pointed out, addiction is just as much (if not more) in the mind than it is in the body. So there will be people for whom reliance on technology, and the worlds it opens up to them, becomes a serious psychological dependency. While we’ve seen this talked about in fiction with novels like Ready Player One, it’s also a reality in some ways already. There are individuals who begin to feel anxious or depressed if they haven’t logged on to see what’s going on in the world. People who will play video games for hours and even days on end, ignoring the responsibilities in their lives in favor of the hits of serotonin they get from leveling up or completing a level. And as technology grows more advanced, and what was once thought of as science fiction becomes part of our daily lives, we’ll need to learn how to deal with the impacts it has on us, our minds, and our social constructs.

Other Conditions

Technology doesn’t always create new conditions on its own… sometimes it just exacerbates conditions that already exist. It’s been argued, for example, that the widespread use of in-home entertainment has contributed to America’s obesity epidemic. People who have used unregulated vaping juices have been grievously injured or killed as a result. The list goes on. However, it’s important to remember that for every problem there exists a solution. Whether it’s modifying the technology to correct a flaw, or studying how it affects us as users over time, we can overcome these new challenges. And, in some cases, we may simply need to do it by inventing alternative technological approaches to deal with our issues. For more on the latest changes in technology, and how they could affect your upcoming project, simply contact us today!