Hello, this is your tyre 'talking' - and I will be on your car in a few years
Even 'boring' old tyres are entering the digital space age and are worthy of our wonder.
At a recent event we were shown (by Continental Tyres) the latest prototypes of ContiSense and ContiAdapt.
We can expect to see both of these technologically-advanced tyres on a production car within three to five years.
ContiSense remotely transmits tyre data including pressure, temperature, tread depth and most importantly, puncture detection.
It will become increasingly important especially as we move more and more towards the era of autonomous vehicles.
While a driver might feel that something is wrong, a computer needs to be explicitly 'informed' when a problem occurs - that is a core benefit.
ContiAdapt is truly space age stuff. Why? Because it uses hydraulic rams and a mini-compressor to vary both rim width and tyre pressure to adapt the wheel perfectly to prevailing conditions.
All of this and more was revealed at Brooklands, the world's first purpose-built racing circuit, where Continental's latest launch, the Eco Contact 6 was specifically highlighted.
It is the successor, funnily enough, to the Eco Contact 5.
The tyre is made from a new Green Chilli 2.0 compound and careful silica distribution contributes to the improvements over its predecessor.
Overall, Continental are claiming 15pc lower rolling resistance and 20pc greater longevity.
The longer life comes despite the tyre depth being reduced from the normal 8mm to about 6.8mm.
That may seem insignificant.
But trying to convince a customer that their new tyre has 15pc less tread depth than expected might be a tall order.
What is significant though is that Continental are claiming major improvements in handling, grip and wet and dry braking.
So much so they now reckon the Eco Contact 6 is suitable for premium and performance applications. Before this they would have recommended one of their more advanced products, such as the Sport Contact, for those applications.
To capitalise on this wider suitability, the Eco Contact will now come in a much wider range of sizes - all the way from 13 to 22 inches - and with a maximum width of 315mm. That means they can fit cars up to the likes of the BMW X5.
Continental experts also shared their thoughts on the subject of particles created as tyres wear down and their effect on the quality of the air that we breathe.
These particles are made up of 50pc tyre rubber, with the rest consisting of pieces of road material. Believe it or not, this subject made headlines in the tyre trade press.
But it doesn't seem to have resonated in the wider media.
Perhaps that's not surprising as not even Continental could make the subject interesting.
To do anything about these particles, the problem first needs to be quantified.
But it is virtually impossible to create standards when roads, which make up half the problem, are so different all over the world.
In any case, these particles are heavier than water so they eventually sink.
And unlike plastic particles, they don't appear to have any detrimental health effects on humans or wildlife.