Nokian's SnapSkan Will 3D Scan Your Tire Treads for Free to Keep You Safe

Car manufacturers go out of their way to provide us with the safest possible vehicles. They install layer after layer of software meant to save our lives in the event of a crash, and they constantly perfect the efficiency of safety belts and airbags.
Nokian SnapSkan 10 photos
Photo: Nokian
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However, all their efforts can so easily go to waste if we don't treat responsibly enough that small patch that connects our vehicles to the road surface. That's right, before any active or passive safety system in your car can have any chance of trying to keep you away from the ER, there's another one that has the first go.

Tires are rarely regarded as safety features, but frankly, that's precisely what they are. Carmakers can only choose the brand and model of the ones your car comes fitted with as new, but after that, you're on your own. It's not unheard of for people with quite expensive cars to become cheap when choosing a new set of tires, even though that's like knowingly fitting a potentially faulty Takata airbag switch.

The importance of having good tires cannot be stressed enough, and yet so often people forget about it. And it's not just about choosing the right model but also keeping an eye out for the wear and tear. Having inappropriate treads on your rubber can have dire consequences in certain circumstances - the kind you never know when they're coming.

That's why Nokian, the Finnish winter tire specialist, is launching a service meant to inform drivers on the state of their tires. It's called SnapSkan, and it will have a look at the tires' health in the most unintrusive way, using 3D scanning technology.

The device looks like your regular speed bump, but instead of simply having your body bouncing around, SnapSkan will also read the tread depth on your car's tires. Rather than keeping it to itself, the system uses a video camera to read the license number and can then relay the information via text message or email to the driver, if they so choose.

The project is developed together with the Vianor tire and car service chain, a place where drivers can get quotations for new tires, if needed. "Too many people are unaware of the condition of their tires, and the threshold for replacing tires seems to be high. We want to use this new technology to raise drivers' awareness of the condition of their tires by making it as easy to access as possible," says Ville Nikkola, Head of Vianor's Retail Business Area.

SnapSkan will be scattered around locations frequented by a large number of drivers such as carparks and will offer its services completely free of charge on an opt-in basis. And since this information is potentially life-saving, not opting in would simply be ridiculous. For now, the services is strictly available in Finland, but hopefully it will spread around quickly.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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