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More tech in cars means more focus on safety
Automakers look to improve safety as more apps and tech land in vehicles

The 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 distracted.

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 Mango smartphone.

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. 





"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs






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