Friday, November 1, 2013

Trends in automotive high-tech

I remember a few years back, seeing an aftermarket in-dash DVD player, and thinking what an insane idea that was. What the?!!? Drivers watching movies, instead of the road? But for several years now, cars have been available from the factory, with big, colorful screens built into the dashboard or center console, where the driver can use navigation (GPS receiver), communication, climate control, etc.

Wonderful! But, as a cyclist I worry about drivers that are staring at that big colorful screen, when maybe they should be looking at the road ... ?

And now, there are car commercials on the teevee, showing some high-end models, with technology that supposedly intervenes and automatically applies the brakes to prevent collisions.

Maybe I'm just Mr. Paranoid, but I worry that motorists will rationalize that since their car will prevent accidents, they don't have to pay quite so much attention. I don't think my concern is unfounded - after all, in 2011, 3,331 people were killed iun crashes involving a distracted driver, and 387,000 people were injured. (Source:

But maybe there's some technology that could affect driving in a positive way. According to the UK DailyMail, a gizmo placed on the driver's head has 14 sensors that detect brain activity. "The headset can tell whether a driver’s attention goes from the road to the radio, when their neural activity dips, or when their blink rate slows significantly. A gyroscope in the headset can also detect when a driver significantly turned their head away from the road."

Interesting concept, somewhat similar to a device that DUI offenders have to blow into, to start the car.

One comment is amusing: "It monitors the Sheila ogling cortex to determine if they're distracted."

Yeah, that too!

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