Thinkware dashcam records and helps prevent car accidents

Dashcams, made popular by innumerable Russian YouTube videos, constantly record video and use an accelerometer to save footage just before and right after a collision. Thinkware puts a new twist on the dashcam with its flagship F750 model.

The F750 not only saves video of the 10 seconds before and 50 seconds after a collision, it also uses its camera to gives an audible warning if it detects an impending frontal collision, letting drivers hit the brakes before the dashcam's crash recording becomes necessary.

Using a cylindrical housing, the F750 can be mounted surreptitiously behind a rear view mirror, so its single camera lens can look forward. The device also supports an optional second camera that can be mounted to the rear of a car. The built-in camera can be twisted to achieve an optimal view of the road ahead.

Minimal controls on the housing let the driver turn the unit on, enable the second camera and activate GPS. The F750's internal GPS chip records the position, direction and speed of the car, which can be useful information in a crash investigation.

Thinkware's playback software integrates with Google Maps, showing the camera footage and a map-based location for any saved incidents. The camera's 140-degree view provides a wide perspective of the road before and after a collision.

Although the F750 lacks a built-in screen, it is Wi-Fi-enabled, so its running footage can be viewed on a connected smartphone. It saves footage to both an SD card and internal storage, ensuring that its collision recording is preserved.

Useful on a day-to-day basis, it includes both a forward collision alert function and lane departure warning. Its single camera has limited depth perception, but image processing allows its computer to detect an imminent collision and sound an alert. It also tracks lane lines, and will issue an audible alert when the car drifts across. This latter function is somewhat limited in usefulness, as the F750 cannot determine when the driver is making an intentional lane change.

The F750 lacks an internal battery, so it must be wired to the car. A parking surveillance mode, which draws minimal power, causes the camera to activate when its accelerometer detects movement, such as someone breaking into a car.

Thinkware currently sells its dashcam products in Korea and Canada, but intends to make the F750 available in the US for a price of $299.

Thinkware F750
The F750 includes an SD card slot and its own internal storage to save collision footage. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

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