Winners of the 2022 Innovation Awards announced at Automechanika 

The who’s who of the automotive aftermarket and related industries converged on the National Exhibition Centre, Nasrec, Johannesburg earlier today (June 7) for the announcement of the winner of the Automechanika Johannesburg 2022 Innovation Awards.

The ultimate accolade in the coveted competition went to SynapCAM, designed, and developed in the USA and South Africa by Synap Inc, and launched on the local market at Automechanika Johannesburg 2022.

The competition was open to any recently introduced automotive products which the manufacturers or distributors deemed worthy of recognition, and the range of entries included electronic automotive products, driver aids, repair and maintenance equipment and online services.

Six products out of more than a dozen entries were chosen as finalists after scrutiny by the panel of expert judges consisting of Jan Schoeman (RMI), André Pistorius (AASA), Beth Dealtry (NAACAM), Dr Norman Lamprecht (NAAMSA), and Thamsanqa Letsoalo (ABSA). ABSA is also a sponsor of the event.

SynapCAM came out on top after scoring the highest points average on aspects such as design, quality, efficiency, functionality, practicality, value for money, environmental friendliness and – of course – innovation. It uses vision-based artificial intelligence (AI) to bring to market user-friendly, fast, and reliable driver assistance. It analyses data from a dedicated infra-red driver camera and dual ADAS vehicle cameras in real time and without the need for a cloud-based server. This data – along with a proprietary behaviour algorithm – can identify what the driver is doing, while vision-based AI object detection can identify objects such as cell phones, seat belts, cigarettes, food, and drink. The ability to intervene and correct driver behaviour in real time, through custom messages and buzzers, prevents drivers from falling asleep, getting distracted, or driving erratically.

In their notes the judges said that it held great potential in the promotion of road safety and should be very well received in particularly the trucking and logistics industries. It could also be a highly beneficial tool in new driver training.

Commented Donovan Devine, the CEO of Synap Inc: “By using AI vision technology and a proprietary algorithm to detect dangerous or distracting driver behaviour, SynapCAM provides instant feedback that could potentially save lives. In addition, it provides coaching that will make drivers more aware, alert, and efficient. Essentially, any vehicle can now become a smart vehicle with SynapCAM.”

The silver certificate went Macrocomm IoT’s Smart Trailer Plug, which also makes its public debut at the trade fair.

The Smart Trailer Plug is specially designed to eliminate the inconvenience of getting in and out of a vehicle to check the status of the trailer or caravan lights. When plugged in, the unit automatically does a fault check on all lights and feedback is given via a cell phone app. If a malfunction is detected, an immediate warning is sent to indicate exactly which light if faulty. In the case of a short, the unit will automatically isolate the trailer from the tow vehicle’s electronics. This means that no fuses will be blown on the tow vehicle’s fuse box. No special harnesses are needed, and the software is upgradeable to add features such as tyre pressure sensing and Bluetooth.

The judges scored it highly in terms of functionality, practicality, and user benefits, noting that it would be of particular benefit in situations where regular checks are required to ensure trailer safety.

The bronze award went to the Rotrix TSH-016 and TSH-50016, entered by Kalundu Trading (Pty) Ltd. Manufactured in Ukraine and introduced locally at the end of 2021, the Rotrix TSH-016 is a handheld tester for voltage regulators and alternators, while the TSH-50016 is an add-on cable which enables the testing of starter motors.

Apart from saving time by preventing the removal of working parts which are thought to be faulty, the system can be used to upgrade older test benches in accordance with current alternator protocol standards. It offers a competitively priced alternative to purchasing a full alternator and starter motor test bench, which is expensive and requires setup/installation and a trained user.

According to the judges’ score sheets it was deemed to be a good all-round performer in terms of the pre-determined criteria, and it was noted that it held substantially cost- and time-saving benefits.

“Product innovation is synonymous with the Automechanika brand and as such, the Innovation Awards have been a highlight of the local event since it was first held in 2009. It aims to find the best aftermarket products in South Africa from a selection of categories and utilise Automechanika Johannesburg as the platform to honour the pioneering prowess of each winning item,” said Michael Dehn, Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt South Africa, the organisers of Automechanika Johannesburg at the awards function.

“The trade fair serves as a gateway for the growing African automotive aftermarket, targeting visitors from sub-Saharan Africa, and is respected as the largest event of its type on the African continent. There is no better way to gain industry and consumer recognition than taking part in a highly respected competition of this nature. Our hearty congratulations to the winner, runners-up, and finalists. The rewards are significant, and who knows, your product could just be the next big thing in the automotive aftermarket.” Dehn concluded.

The finalists will be on display at the Innovation Awards stand at Automechanika Johannesburg until the show closes on Friday, June 10.