Wow. That statement alone really sums up where we are heading. I suppose even we almost baby boomers must acquiesce to the fact that access to cell phone, and even Internet, while in the car is fast becoming a must. I can't tell you how often one of my kids plays personal secretary to me, writing/responding to texts, emails, etc. while I'm carting them to and from places. Even on these short jaunts, I increasingly feel the need to be connected so anything that might make that easier and less dangerous would be a welcome advantage.
I think you are right, Beth. The technology we are talking about has become cultural - it is a part of our world view on how we communicate with each other. I just hope we never dispense with the OFF button. Sometimes I feel like it is enslaving more than liberating. We never leave work anymore - even when we physically leave. It used to be there was a line of demarcation between personal and private time but that line has become blurred due to technology, sometimes to our loss...
Beth, we are a connected people, aren't we. I find that a lot of things are delivered with a CD or DVD which contains almost nothing. It is mostly links to a web site with the latest information. This makes sense, but only if you have ubiquitous communications. The cell phone network is the closest we have to that. Many people have 4G modules they attach to their PCs. Some even come with that. Why not cars?
This should be really interesting now that they did away with the unlimited data plan. They Pushed 4G as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it is fast, but much like any good drug dealer, get your addicts hooked, then jack up the prices... the junkies will pay.
I think this time they may have overreached, just like their idiotic billing policy they pulled back on when the public told them to shove it.
My goodness, Verizon just positioned itself with a monopoly on in-car phone service. That's a pretty clever move. I would guess users would have to pay a monthly fee to Verizon and they would be locked in with that vendor.
Yes, Rob, a clever move. Some in the industry also believe that Verizon did it because they no longer want to support the 2G and 2.5G services that are used in some of the hard-wired in-car phone services.
My bet is it might parallel what happens with satelitte radio. You buy a certain class of vehicle and you get satelitte radio for a year and then afterwards have to buck up for a subscription if they want to keep it. Perhaps Verizon would do the same thing although given our love affair with the cell phone, my guess is people would be prepared to pay right away to get the service.
All the car companies would like to tie us into the lucrative smart phone "service" market. But how many car companies have the resources to create their own "service"? One, GM, with OnStar.
My car has blue tooth and USB. Just like on-star, it can call 911 in case of an accident. It could easily get smart phone connectivity with either of those two interfaces if they just updated the on-board SW. That probably won't happen, since then I wouldn't be locked into a server of the car companies choosing (and they have a relationship with a satalite provider for that now, which I'm not paying for).
The last thing a car company should be doing is tying a snapshot of technology into a car with a potential 20 year lifespan. My wife's 18 year old car still has an analog "built in" phone. You know what it's useful for? Nada.
What the car companies should be doing is coming up with a tablet cradle dock standard on the middle dash (power + USB/bluetooth with a standard data format, kind of like OBD). Want 4G? Get a 4G tablet. Touch screen breaks? Get a new $200 tablet instead of paying $3000 for a replacement "built in" from the dealer. Technology marches on? (I hear that it does, sometimes;) Buy a new tablet. Better screen? No problem. Want to create your own engine performance dials? Write an Android app. Want to continue something after your car ride is over? Take it with you (I do this now with my Android cell phone and my music).
The profit driven motive here isn't necessarily a virtue. Sizzle sells steak, and bells, whistles, touchscreens and apps sell cars and phones.
The problem isn't the technology...it's the ergonomic positioning and tactile component of the technology....and worse, it's the place that it puts the drivers' brains.
While it's true that you can adjust your mirrors, tune your radio, look at your Garmin, (and dare I mention shave, apply lipstick, brush your hair, or light a cigarette?) ... the problem is that if something happens requiring fast driver response, reaction time is reduced.
Studies have shown that complex discussions with passengers can distract a driver seriously--and the same is true of conversations by cell phone. The handheld component almost doesn't matter, so long as you're not looking down to dial. Your brain is still on auto-cruise while engaging in the activity, and you're AN IMPAIRED DRIVER.
How many of us have driven past an exit on a limited access roadway while listening to music, or talking on the phone? Or found ourselves in the left lane when we should be slowing for the exit? Or had some idiot execute a last minute "left lane exit" across three lanes of 70mph highway?
Even application of heads-up display might not mitigate the distraction problem.
It's no wonder the NTSB is weighing in negatively on some of these applications.
It's interesting that this article completely glosses over the economics of a car driver having a second 4G 'smartphone' subscription service <this is where the rubber-hits-the-road --pun intended>. Most folks already dish out ~ $80 - 100/ month for the 'smartphone' in their pocket. So the article is suggesting mass numbers of car-buyers are going to sign up for a second $80-100/ month subscription plan? And then deal with network overages on two subscriptions?
We do not need a phone in the car any more than we need a built in bar in the car. I hope that the car companies realize that eventually they will be tagged as the enablers for putting in distracting things and causing accidents. And once that decision is issued there will be hundreds more lawsuits charging endangerment or some such.
So while it seems like a good idea, a high profit one at that, in reality it is setting up for a huge loss later on. Please consider that.
As the article pointed out OnStar is a 2G system, and is priced accordingly. Its not an infotainment system. I just renewed my annual subscription for <$15/month. Yes, millions can pay $15/month - even within the current economic slump. I have had zero minutes on my "cell plan" for over 18 months - don't use it. Just a glorified wireless burglar alarm system with an insurance discount, that can unlock my car if I leave the keys inside.
If Verizon can price a 4G 'data plan' like that, incredible, and it will sell like hotcakes. But I don't think so.
As manufacturers add new technologies to their products, designing for compliance becomes more difficult. Prepare for the certification testing process. Otherwise, you increase the risk of discovering a safety issue after a product leaves the assembly line. That will cause significant time-to-market delays, be much costlier to fix, and damage your brand in the eyes of customers.
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