Best of CH 2020: Cars + Tech

Advancements in the automotive and technology industries that engaged and entertained us this year

This year was marked by record-breaking reliance on technology and newfound appreciations for cars and the freedom they provide. We drove to escape, to assist others and even for entertainment. We used technology to order what we needed for months of life at home, turned to energetic online offerings for connection and tinkered with the tech we had at home simply to pass the time. Here, in our round-up of the year’s cars and technology, we point out the reintroduction of old tools, spotlight clever developments that led to new products, return to noteworthy reviews and resurface the stories wherein innovation enhanced our experience.

by Timothy Fadek

Notes: Return of the Drive-In Movie Theater

What a year for cinema! With the postponement of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (to 1 October 2021) and the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die (to April of next year), it seems like 2020 will go without a blockbuster. It makes sense, of course, what with movie theaters being unsafe places to settle in for a few hours—and the tepid response to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet demonstrates that audiences in the US are not interested in returning quite yet. Financially, all of these factors have contributed to the temporary closure of all 536 Regal movie theaters in the US, and so many independents, too. But as someone who puts Marvel release dates in his Google Calendar (and who also attends film festivals professionally), this year has required a bit of maneuvering to find new distractions… Read more.

Courtesy of FPT Industrial

Giorgio Moroder + the Future of Sound in Transportation

Within the rows and rows of consumer-facing products at CES, business-to-business innovations and releases work double-time to impress. For instance, John Deere delivered an entire R4038 self-propelled sprayer to the show floor. Towering over other booths, the tractor spotlighted the company’s commitment to furthering agricultural technology. Another exhibitor, FPT Industrial, transported attendees to a setting reminiscent of a listening party. Their booth, a bright red beacon contrasting the drab blues and whites of the Las Vegas Convention Center, featured their new Cursor X 4.0 Power Source Concept—a modular, modern powertrain with applications in agriculture, transportation, industrial, and marine vehicles and vessels—set at the center of a lavishly built-out recording studio. In the corner of the booth, situated behind a DJ stand, was famed producer, singer, songwriter, and “Father of Disco” Giorgio MoroderRead more.

Courtesy of Polestar

Interview: Polestar’s Design Director on The Stunning Precept Concept

The Precept, from Polestar (Volvo’s electric vehicle testbed and sister brand), represents not just an embrace of technology, but also a reshuffling and reimagining of the concept of luxury itself. Austere and future-forward, the car (which was poised to be unveiled at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show) follows in CEO Thomas Ingenlath’s mission statement that EV design should move away from what he calls “dystopian brutalism” toward a “sophisticated high-tech minimalism.” With practical features (like its spacious rear seats and large battery pack) and details that encompass the brand’s dedication to environmentally friendly materials, this stunning vehicle looks fairly close to production… Read more.

by Andrew Maness

Test Ride: 2020 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty

A motorcycle like the 2020 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty begs to be ridden. Its low-slung stance, floating solo seat and mini-ape bars form a tight unit that calls out to observers. Even at first glance, it’s clear this bike is special. The moment you’re on the saddle, though, an energy flows through you; a highly focused buzz. You reach down, turn the key in the side mounted ignition, click the starter button and the potent 69 cu-in V-Twin awakes… Read more.

Courtesy of Leica

Testing the Powerful New Leica M10 Monochrom

We had a chance to shoot with Leica’s latest addition to the M10 family of rangefinders—the M10 Monochrom, which was announced last Friday. Their second black-and-white-only digital camera is a massive update over the previous generation, bringing their latest imaging innovations to a product decidedly for an analog-loving purist. This new model retains the slimmer body design of its predecessors and remains understated on the outside, courtesy of a brass and magnesium-alloy body with a black chrome finish and contrasting gray touches. Inside, there’s improved, quick-moving mechanics. A quiet shutter supports its stealthiness, and top-notch lowlight performance lets photographers experiment on even the darkest of evenings… Read more.

Courtesy of Microsoft + Bode

Bode + Microsoft’s AI-Powered Archive of Quilted Textiles

Emily Adams Bode‘s process favors the analog; sketching details passed along by collectors and artisans, repurposing vintage quilting textiles, enlisting skilled craftsman to replicate one-of-a-kind pieces and more instead of mass-producing her ideas. Her garments—released under her eponymous luxury brand, Bode—have won her the 2019 CFDA Award for Emerging Designer of the Year and the Inaugural Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation. As such, a collaborative project with Microsoft might seem out of character, but they worked diligently on a new system titled the Bode Vault, an AI-driven digital quilt expert that can identify pattern styles, eras, regions and more… Read more.

Courtesy of Arevo / Superstrata

Superstrata’s First-Ever 3D-Printed Unibody Carbon Fiber Bike

Superstrata is a new bicycle brand launched by Arevo, a Silicon Valley-based 3D printer manufacturer. Their flagship models, the C and E bikes, are the first-ever to be both 3D-printed from thermoplastic carbon fiber and unibody—meaning no screws, bolts, glues or other adhesives. Manufacturing them this way ensures durability and portability, as the carbon fiber frame (without added components) weighs far less than models made from more traditional materials and using longstanding processes. The bikes are printed on demand to the specific measurements of the customer’s body… Read more.

by Sam Horine

Sam Horine Photographs Seattle with the New iPhone 12 Pro Max

Photographer Sam Horine moved to Seattle from NYC a couple years back and pretty quickly developed an appreciation for the neon signs spread across the city. “Half the year it’s great weather. The other half of the year it’s total crap and completely dark all the time. But the signs are a beacon of light and I like how they play in reflections and light up the night a little bit,” he tells us. As Horine’s commercial clients keep him pretty busy, his idea to shoot a series on the signs was tabled. Given the opportunity to test Apple’s new iPhone 12 Pro Max, Horine immediately knew this was the right timing to shoot some neon. And as a result, we have some of the very first photos made using this flagship camera phone… Read more.

Courtesy of Calihash

Interview: Calihash Extractions Company Founder + CEO Michael Domecq

Hash, the concentrated form of cannabis, has a storied history. The product appears in literary works and anthropological studies as far back as the 16th century. It’s a complex form of the cannabis flower that’s surprisingly simple to produce—and exponentially more potent than smoking the dried flower on its own. The plant’s thrichomes (where the cannabinoids, or active components, are found) are separated from the cured flower through a variety of methods. Calihash, one of LA’s top recreational and medicinal hash producers and retailers draws theirs—whether it be pressed or raw—from California’s finest indoor-grown cannabis, and they extract it gently and without solvents, to both preserve the profile of the cannabis plant and ensure the full spectrum of components remain intact… Read more.

Courtesy of Joué

Joué’s Entry-Level Instrument for Musical Experimentation, Joué Play

Previewed at this year’s CES (where we tested it), Joué‘s multifunctional instrument Joué Play is both easy to use and expressive. Comprised of a set of silicone pads and a board, it’s a stark contrast from the company’s complex modular MIDI controller, which debuted on Kickstarter three years ago. The designers found the MIDI less approachable for beginners and dabblers, as much of the software designed to make MIDIs easier ultimately made them more complex; in fact, their interfaces and inherent gestures and lingo require training sessions of their own… Read more.

Courtesy of Magnus Walker + Hannah Elliott

Magnus Walker+ Hannah Elliott’s Thrilling Car-Focused Short Film “Big Apple Outlaw”

Britain-born custom car designer, driver and collector Magnus Walker garnered attention when championing the beauty and potential of Porsche vehicles—most notably the 911 model. In his newest short film, however, Walker ventures into new territory: filming a non-Porsche vehicle in NYC. The result, Big Apple Outlaw, features Walker and Bloomberg Pursuits auto writer Hannah Elliott driving through the city in Phil Toledano‘s Italian hatchback Lancia Delta Integrale Bastarda… Read more.

Hero image by Josh Rubin