automotive industry understands that it is a tightrope walk between adding technology
to cars to help drivers stay connected behind the wheel and putting too many
distractions in front of the driver. There is a big push by local, state, and
federal governments to reduce
accidents related to distracted driving.
Just about all of the carmakers out there are now offering
technology in their vehicles that allows for hands free use of a
mobile phone while driving. Ford has its Sync system for instance and GM has
its OnStar system. The technology in systems such as those is changing rapidly
with new additions coming to keep people for texting and driving or being
One interesting new addition that automakers are working on for several brands
are systems that will allow the driver to receive a text message (which is
spoken aloud by the vehicles’ infotainment system) and to speak a response back
all while driving. The Detroit News
reports that Chris Weber, president of Nokia USA, showed off a Microsoft
voice-recognition technology on a new Nokia
Weber said, "This is a game changer. I ended up doing 17 text
messages," he said, "and I never touched the phone."
Ford's Jim Farley said the auto industry hasn’t focused on selling technology
in the past. Farley said, "If people don't know about it or how to use it,
what's the use."
Ford knows well that cumbersome and difficult to use technology in a vehicle
can have a significant impact on the company. Ford's MyFord Touch system was
criticized for being hard to use and distracting. Complaints from users were
enough to send
it tumbling in the J.D. Power rankings. Ford is now working to make
the vehicle technology easier to use.
GM is also working on its own OnStar system and has updated the system to allow
the user to hear Facebook status messages and post messages without touching
the phone. Facebook has even hired Toyota social media and marketing exec Doug
Frisbie to lead automotive strategy solutions for the company.