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Award-winning tech at the 2009 SEMA Show

With the absence of the major car audio OEMs from the 2009 SEMA Show, you may assume that car tech has taken a backseat to tuning and muscle... but you'd be wrong.

At the time of publication, we're currently evaluating the Bully Dog Watchdog. Full review to come soon.
The big car audio companies chose to sit this round out. Fortunately, there was still a lot of cool tech at the 2009 SEMA Show. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

With the absence of the major car audio OEMs at the 2009 SEMA Show, it would be easy to assume that car tech has taken a backseat to tuning and muscle. However, the more compact electronics section allowed smaller companies with truly innovative products to shine. We found ourselves spending more time learning about cool products like the PowerSafe jumper cable, instead of rushing from booth to booth looking at amplifier after amplifier.

For example, On-Board Diagnostics (OBD-II) interfaces were a major part of the tech scene at SEMA. From add-on modules for your GPS device to standalone OBD-II devices to Wi-Fi dongles that transform your iPhone into a handheld diagnostics station, there were dozens of different devices that allowed users to listen in on what their vehicle used to only share with a mechanic. These devices allow tuners to search for more power, greenies to eke more miles out of a gallon, and regular consumers to feel more confident when they take their cars in for maintenance.

Other cool technologies that picked up awards were rearview camera interfaces, off-road iPod cradles, and a funny little device that actually makes all of those cupholders useful.

Check out our gallery of award-winning new products at the 2009 SEMA Show for more details and pics.