Radar detectors are handy little devices if you want to avoid speed traps and red-light cameras, but they can be bulky and unsightly when mounted on your windshield or dashboard. That's why Cobra Electronics' new under-the-hood iRadar S-Series radar detector is, well, kind of awesome.
I'm not the only one who thinks it's cool—it's one of this year's CES Innovations Honorees.
The small black device that is the iRadar S-Series is the first under-the-hood radar detector to use a Bluetooth connection to talk to your iOS or Android phone via Bluetooth. It uses your smartphone as a controller and screen, and displays relevant information using Cobra's free iRadar companion app.
The crowd on your side
The iRadar companion app is free to download, and can be used even if you don't have a Cobra-branded radar detector installed in your car. Here's how: The app uses crowd-sourcing to warn users of upcoming dangers, like cops, speed traps, red-light cameras, and dangerous intersections.
The app can draw information from both user reports (entered manually using the app) and iRadar radar detectors (entered automatically from vehicles with iRadar detectors installed). If you're a free user—that is, if you don't have a radar detector installed—then you will have access only to the manual user reports, not ones generated from other detectors.
When the app receives automatic reports from an iRadar detector, it uses a special algorithm to help it determine if the report is real or just a false alarm before reporting it to the community.
The low profile
Cobra is also demonstrating a couple of ultracompact radar detectors, including the iRadar ATOM, the smallest on-dash radar detector available today. The ATOM also pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth and uses the iRadar companion app to report danger zones.
For those of you wondering about the legality of this, it's perfectly legal to have a radar detector installed in your passenger vehicle in all states except Virginia and the District of Columbia. That said, just because it's legal doesn't mean that police love them—so having a concealed, under-the-hood radar detector tucked out of sight might be a good thing if you do get pulled over.
The iRadar S-Series will start shipping in the third quarter of 2013 for $300, and the iRadar ATOM will start shipping in the second quarter of 2013 for $200.
For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out our complete coverage of CES 2013.