Electronics News
Car Connectivity Standard Puts Smartphones in Driver's Seat

Nokia's Car Mode simplifies access to voice-guided car navigation, traffic updates, music, and voice calls through its smartphones.  (Photo courtesy of Car Connectivity Consortium.)
Nokia's Car Mode simplifies access to voice-guided car navigation, traffic updates, music, and voice calls through its smartphones.
(Photo courtesy of Car Connectivity Consortium.)

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Beth Stackpole
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More apps, more distractions
Beth Stackpole   10/6/2011 8:43:43 AM
While I'm no dummy to think people aren't going to email/text/surf while at the wheel (I'm guilty as well) and I applaud standards that make it easier to connect, the trend of serving up more technology while driving scares me. Even with headsets, built-in consoles, etc., it's totally distracting to figure out what buttons to press or how to activate the voice commands. It's a technology trend that's likely unstoppable, but that doesn't mean it's good for driver/passenger safety.

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Re: More apps, more distractions
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/6/2011 9:20:55 AM

For this very reason, the consortium should develop the new standards leaning toward large-font, single-instruction, audio-augmented, screen-based, naturally-intuitive user interfaces. Take lessons from jet-fighter cockpits, and be able to make selections with a nano-second glance.  More Human Factors considerations for dummies like me who clumsily STILL can’t find the ¼’ black button I’m looking for to change the mode setting. Although my wife can skillfully put on make-up, talk on the phone, and have sandwich while cruising the interstate, I still mis-pick my intentions when offered too many alternatives in a tightly arrayed button layout. (…why texting causing fatalities…)

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That's Great News
williamlweaver   10/6/2011 9:15:28 AM
I recently purchased a 2011 Corolla and didn't expect this commuter car to have as much tech as it does. The head unit connects via bluetooth to my not-very-smart texting phone for both voice activated calls and music files. The USB port works seamlessly with my son's iPOD and also with my Android tablet. 

Depending on the day, my 45-min one-way commute can devolve into a 2-hour marathon. Having these communication options along with Satalite radio helps immensely. I'm delighted design engineers have recognized that in addition to style, performance, and mpg, driver and passenger entertainment is a very important component.

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Burch   10/7/2011 4:38:17 PM
> eliminates the need for owners of multiple cars to buy separate smartphones for each of their vehicles.

When and why was this needed? Bluetooth technology enabled phones can happily connect to multiple cars. One at a time, of course :-)

William K.
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Car connectivity standard
William K.   10/7/2011 10:44:23 PM
I think that Beth is more correct, in that what we really do not need is more driver distractions. Multiple times every day I see folks driving while paying a lot of attention to their phone call. Safe driving requires a great deal more attention than they are giving it. The sad reality is that cell-phone driving is distracted driving. It has very little to do with the physical handling of the phone, and a whole lot to do with having a full duplex conversation going on. The only way to make cell phones even close to safe in a car will be to change them to simplex, that is, "push-to-talk" operation.That mode is much less distracting.

Actually, going to simplex might make people a lot more polite after a while.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Car connectivity standard
Rob Spiegel   11/15/2011 3:08:50 PM
I agree William. In my city (Albuquerque) we have a law restricting cell phone use except for hands-free phones. But the conversation is the problem, not the hand holding the phone. If it were the hand, they'd outlaw the coffeee I drink while driving.

One thing I find interesting is how a cell phone conversation is can so distracting while a conversation with your passanger is not distracting.

William K.
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Car connectivity and distracted drivers
William K.   11/17/2011 9:07:11 PM
Evidently the second part of my previois comment did not have much impact. That was the part about making the phones SIMPLEX. What simplex means is that only one party can talk at a time. This is how most commercial two-way radios have functioned for over fifty years, and how amateur and citizens band (CB) radios have always worked. The huge difference is that while one is talking they can not hear, and while they are listening they can not talk. The result is that much less attention is required. Of course, it also has a tendancy to make folks more polite, because interrupting while the other is talking is simply not possible. 

So changing automotive cell phone conversations to simplex is my suggestion for making cell phones safer. Of course, it could greatly extend battery life, which would be a handy tradeoff, in exchange for being able to interrupt constantly. Actually, the only hardware change would be to add the talk button to existing cell phones, the rest could be a simple software change. And the beauty is that when one was not driving the old duplex mode could still be used. So mostly it would just be a hardware change, and a cheap one at that. Probably less than 20 cents. The big change would be in the code running the phone, which would need to be revised. Actually, the really major change would have to be in the users, learning to stay quiet and listen, instead of constantly interrupting the other person. That change in style would probably benefit most of us.


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