Monday, September 03, 2007

Too much high-tech mobility?

CNet has just posted 'Are drivers ready for high-tech onslaught?' which asks whether the coming high-tech cars of 2008 might just be too confusing for some drivers, or too automated for the driver's liking:

Self-parking, auto-braking, always-connected cars will soon be the norm as James Bond-like high-tech gear trickles down from luxury models to budget rides in 2008.

On tap from BMW, Mercedes, GM, Lexus and others are a wide range of high-tech navigation systems, parking assistance features, touch-screen displays, Bluetooth communications and other developments, as human control of mundane--and not-so mundane--systems is being rapidly ceded to automation. But without one's own personal Q to explain how each gadget works, how much new tech is too much for the average consumer to handle?

"A lot of it is beneficial...But it can be confusing and in the automobile, that's a safety threat," said Don Norman...Norman and others say automakers have their work cut out for them in teaching drivers how to best use these new tools. And then there's the user interface: Forget about familiar personal computer-like displays. Many advanced systems being placed in cars require no-peek coordination.

The more difficult task might be convincing people that a computer can read a map, place phone calls, apply brakes, mind the blind spot, stay in the right lane and maintain a safe driving distance from the next car better than the average driver...

...In a Telematics Research Group review (PDF) of 2008 car models, 70 percent have voice-activated Bluetooth communication capability and 80 percent offer navigation systems as either options or standard equipment.


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