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Best of CH 2021: Cars + Tech

Milestone developments in automotive, mixed reality, gaming and more this year

by Josh Rubin

With another year of technological and automotive innovation behind us, we’ve grown closer to a fully electric future for cars, an awe-inspiring understanding of the cosmos and truly immersive VR and AR worlds. More than our time behind the wheels of game-changing vehicles or our moments levitating upward from within headsets, this year saw technologies emerge to make the world safer and more empathetic. These highlights only scratch the surface of what happened around the world, and what we covered in 2021 and give ample reason to be excited about what may emerge next year.

by Josh Rubin

Test Drive: Rivian R1/T

As guests of Rivian in Breckenridge, Colorado we had the opportunity to test drive the emerging brand’s first vehicle and spend time with the lead designers and engineers who created it. Everything about this experience was remarkable: the electric truck is very impressive, the team incredibly inspiring and the environment we were in—a breath of fresh air. The most profound realization, however, is how well the R1/T is poised to be the catalyst for a culture shift in the US. It’s a pick-up truck and off-road vehicle that moves silently with minimal environmental impact all while wearing a joyful face… Read more.

Streamline graph of the disinformation supply chain by Kelly Pau

Ad-Tech Watchdog “Check My Ads” Fights Disinformation + Hate Speech

As one of the most alarming threats to public safety around the world, disinformation is a growing issue with violent consequences. From galvanizing the US Capitol Hill riot to inciting hate toward Asian people during the pandemic via “China Flu” rhetoric, disinformation (aka purposefully crafted, false narratives) perpetuates hate and bigotry. While people typically look to social media when pinpointing the source of fake news, advertising technology companies play an integral role in not only empowering fake news sites, but also capitalizing on them. Claire Atkin and Nandini Jammi, co-founders of the recently-launched non-profit Check My Ads Institute, are some of the only advocates bringing ad-tech mechanisms into the spotlight, holding the industry accountable in order to abolish disinformation and hate-baiting… Read more.

by Andrew Maness

The Triumphant Return of the Ford Bronco

There’s so much to cover with the 2021 Ford Bronco—the return of an icon—that the most practical place to start is by pointing out what it doesn’t offer (like options that aren’t available or what equipment combinations can’t be pieced together) rather than what it does, as there’s simply so much to discuss. While there are a few specifications that aren’t possible, buyers have carte blanche to build their Bronco in many, many ways. And Ford is banking on the majority of buyers doing just that… Read more.

Courtesy of Electric Noir Studios

Electric Noir Studios’ Innovative, Interactive Storytelling Game, “Dead Man’s Phone”

“A teenage boy falls from a London tower block. A murder investigation is launched,” Dead Man’s Phone—a BAFTA-nominated interactive iOS and Android crime game from Electric Noir Studios—begins. From there, players enter the story, assuming the role of lead detective. With the intention of uncovering how the teenager, Jerome (played by Tafari Golding) died, users engage with his friends and mother, police officers and other auxiliary characters. But rather than employing third-person camera angles and cut scenes like video games, Dead Man’s Phone imports Jerome’s devices directly onto the player’s phone. This allows a user to navigate the game app like their own home screen and peruse Jerome’s group chats, photos, maps data, news apps, Snapchat (stylized as “SnapLife”), notes and phone calls. As the player pieces together the storyline, the universe expands… Read more.

Courtesy of Supernatural

Supernatural’s Suite of VR Fitness Activities Now Includes Boxing

To slip on an Oculus Quest or Quest 2 and step into Supernatural is to experience the future of fitness. In the year and a half since its debut, this popular VR app, with a suite of activities inside, has taught consumers that at-home workouts marry remarkably well with virtual reality worlds. Now, boxing—with programs guided by real-life coaches—is the latest modality, joining the full-body cardio routines, as well as meditation and recovery experiences already available. This addition allows players to jab, block and punch virtual targets set among stunning photorealistic settings, with a compelling soundtrack behind it all. There are three intensity levels to accommodate an array of participants and, altogether, the experience equips those looking to work out from the privacy of home while maintaining a community of likeminded individuals who constantly seek inspiration… Read more.

Courtesy of Nissan

Celebrating History + Rejecting Homogeneity With The New 2023 Nissan Z

According to Hiroshi Tamura, the 2023 Nissan Z is a car that almost shouldn’t exist. At the car’s debut yesterday, Tamura (the car’s chief product specialist) along with Alfonso Albaisa (Nissan’s senior vice president of global design) explained how Nissan—a company that’s on a huge push to electrify everything they make, but also has been through a terrible economic mess and executive scandal—created the two-seat sports car with a twin-turbocharged gasoline-burning engine that will hit American streets next spring… Read more.

Courtesy of Momentum

Test Ride: Momentum’s PakYak E+ Bike

If the electric car is the next big thing, the electric bike has already become ubiquitous. They’re on every bike trail, path and city street, and sales continue rising, with a 145% increase from the already robust 2019 numbers. While so many are eschewing public transport for e-bikes, it also begs the question: can an e-bike also replace a car? And, is that the goal? From Momentum (a sub-brand of Giant, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer) comes the PakYak E+ which boasts a motor from Yamaha, who has quietly been making electric bike motors for decades. Together, these two brands are seasoned experts within the space, which is just one reason we wanted to test ride the PakYak E+ cargo bike… Read more.

by Michael Frank

Lining up Lamborghini’s Huracán STO with Aston Martin’s DBS

One may be tempted to compare and contrast the wonders of the new Lamborghini Huracán STO and Aston Martin’s DBS—but if you’re puzzled about which of these two $300,000-plus supercars is better, you’re asking the wrong question. The differences are vast—and understanding these two cars’ personalities comes before you ever hear them start; before you ever bend your body awkwardly aboard either… Read more.

Courtesy of Virgin Galactic

Attending Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 Launch at Spaceport America

With temperatures hovering in the low 90s and a tarantula or two scuttling across the runway, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity aircraft swept into the skies for its 22nd space flight, the first with a full crew, which included founder Sir Richard Branson in its cabin. As Unity soared to an altitude of 53.5 miles, leaving Spaceport America, New Mexico and the Chihuahuan Desert behind, the flight established a new benchmark in the quest toward commercial space travel. We were on-site to witness the feat and its smooth conclusion—all of which were the result of a thousand engineers, roughly 17 years of work and two significant technical developments… Read more.

Courtesy of Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce’s First Fully Electric Production Vehicle, The Spectre

Intended for the market in late 2023, Rolls-Royce‘s first fully electric vehicle, the Spectre, was destined to be built long before EVs were completely understood. The brand’s co-founders (Charles Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce) were fascinated by electricity in general, but when Rolls drove in an electric car in 1900, he decided that electric was the future. “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean,” he said, in a truly prophetic statement. “There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged”… Read more.

Image of Marco Brambilla’s “Heaven’s Gate” (2021) courtesy of artist

Video Artist Marco Brambilla’s “Heaven’s Gate” at Pérez Art Museum Miami

Inside the esteemed Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), artist Marco Brambilla’s towering 8K audio-video collage “Heaven’s Gate” (2021) was installed this summer—a monument to the filmmaker’s moody, vertical world-building style. Within the work, Brambilla references some 800 films through components that have been rotoscoped out of their source material and layered into his vertically-scrolling vision. The work’s title references director Michael Cimino’s 1980 film of the same name—which was a cinematic disaster that bankrupted its studio. Brambilla’s “Heaven’s Gate” nods to all that film industry excess and the replacement of substance with spectacle, but it’s parsed out over seven levels that reference Dante’s Divine Comedy. During Miami Art Week 2021 Brambilla partnered with HTC, and visitors to the museum were able to float upward through an immersive version of the artwork for the first time… Read more.

Hero image by Josh Rubin


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