Parking sensors and reversing cameras have done a lot to prevent parking scrapes and reversing accidents in recent years, but they're generally the preserve of new cars. FenSens is aiming to change that with its new license plate frame, which wirelessly connects to your smartphone and gives you parking sensors regardless of how old your ride is.
According to the FenSens team, 90 percent of the cars on US roads don't have parking sensors. That contributes to the 15,000 injuries, 1.8 million rear-end accidents and US$7 billion in damage caused by back-up accidents.
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Although there are plenty of self-install kits online, they can be expensive and beyond the capabilities of many to install. Unlike most of these kits, the FenSens unit doesn't require any wiring or external power but instead communicates wirelessly and relies on a built-in five-month battery.
There are two different models available: the Parking Assist and the Fender Defender. Both models attach to the car with four screws, and connect to Android or iOS devices using Bluetooth LE. The dual-sensor entry-level Parking Assist model is designed for cars and trucks with recessed license plates, and has a narrower field of vision to protect the area immediately behind you.
The more expensive Fender Defender model comes with four ultrasonic sensors, covering the entire rear end of the car. Both models have a range of about 10 feet (3 m), and are IP67 water/dust proof.
Information about what's going on behind you is conveyed through the usual combination of beeps and boops, as well as a visual display on the mobile device of how close things are to you. There's also vibration alerts if you forget to pull your phone our of your pocket.
At this point, we'd like to make it perfectly clear that, while this is a good idea, there's still no substitute for turning around and having a look behind you. We'd also like to make it clear in some parts of the world it's illegal to use your phone while driving and, without having your device mounted on the dashboard, looking down to your lap or hand dramatically reduces your situational awareness.
But with these things in mind, we can see how the system might help to cut down on the number of back-up injuries and accidents every year.
The Fender Defender and Parking Assist models are both available for pre-order. If the project gets off the ground, the Parking Assist will cost US$120, while the Fender Defender will set you back $150.
A FenSens explainer video is below.