Unified Communications Featured Article

Computing Technologies to Change Driving Experience Forever, Says Edmunds

October 22, 2010

If the introduction of smartphones, Web-enabled televisions and unified communication solutions has taught us anything, it is that integrated technology is the next step forward in the consumer market. This trend of incorporating different innovations and services into a singular product is occurring in most every field, including the automobile industry.

Over the last few years, auto engineers and designers have begun putting more effort into creating added computing power than generating extra horsepower. Most cars that roll off the line today are loaded with technological advances that were not originally designed for the auto industry.

Edmunds Inside Line, an influential automotive website, recently unveiled a number of new technologies that are changing the way that people drive.

The first of these advances is the dashboard computer, which is being added into more new vehicles each year. These cloud-computing devices offer GPS turn-by-turn navigation, business listings, traffic updates and much more. Consumers who buy cars that are equipped with these systems can access information without having to touch a button, as they are all voice activated.

Another innovation that is gaining traction is the concept of the next-generation head-up display (HUD). These systems use holographic laser projection to display information like speed, road warnings and navigation data directly on the windshield. HUD systems also utilize infrared cameras to "paint" the edges of the road for drivers who are having difficulty with visibility.

"GM's next-gen HUD will also include 'automated sign-reading technology' to alert you when you exceed a posted speed limit," said Doug Newcomb, senior editor for Technology for InsideLine.com.

In the coming years, many moderately-priced vehicles will contain advanced driver assistance systems, which are designed to protect motorists from their own poor driving. This technology includes lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, blind-spot detection and pedestrian detection systems.

Finally, Edmunds points out the emerging trend of telematics integration. Although these in-car systems have been around for quite a while, they are now offering different services, including voice activation, text-to-speech technology and audible RSS feeds. Systems like OnStar are rolling out features that tie into smart phone app and that let drivers update their Facebook account and check their news feed using voice activation technology.

"These rapidly evolving vehicle technologies offer an interesting trade-off between privacy, safety, and convenience for drivers," Newcomb noted. “And although we don’t yet have flying cars, cars that drive themselves may not be too far off.”

Beecher Tuttle is a unified communications contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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