Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 13, 2013

Drive for new technologies in cars is accelerating

By MIKE GINGERICH
COLUMNIST

GOSHEN — Do you have the new iPhone yet? Have you seen the thumbprint security feature that unlocks the iPhone 5s?

Yes, mobile phones keep getting more and more new features and functions. From Siri on the iPhone serving as a personal assistant, to on-demand language translation services and more, phones keep advancing with more sophisticated technology. However, what if these advances in mobile technology pale in comparison to the advances to technology in new cars? It’s here and it’s only growing.

The new tech features in automobiles continue to grow and expand at an amazing rate. From back-up cameras to automatic high-beam control, many great features are coming out regularly. Soon your auto may be your “go-to” tech spot as advances in “on-board technology” make huge strides each year.

General Motors was one of the early forerunners with OnStar enabling you to make calls and contact help if your car had a breakdown. Ford advanced the game with their SYNC product. This in-car service will read incoming text messages out loud to you and allow you to reply, thus removing the dangerous “texting while driving” scenario.

Blind spot detection alarms are no longer reserved only for luxury cars and are becoming more mainstream. The same goes for “parking assist” where the auto actually parallel parks for you. Some technologies are resident only within the car while others are tapping into the mobile phones of users to offer additional services via the phone through blue-tooth connectivity. Look for more integrations with phones to enable users to easily use what is already on their phone such as music services, contact lists, weather, and navigation apps. With the continuing growth of mobile devices, it only makes sense for automobiles to take advantage of the computer in your pocket.

What if you could rent a car, then simply plug in your mobile phone and the car would have customized preferences enabled such as your music play-list, directions to your hotel based on the confirmation number in your email, and temperature settings based on your past preferences in relation to the outside temperature? A current focal point in auto technology is the move to voice activated commands, enabling drivers to keep their eyes on the road while simply talking to do various tasks. From adjusting the radio volume, to changing the in-car temperature, voice activated commands are growing and expanding. However, even this may be unnecessary as voice activated controls may be surpassed within this decade by self-driving cars.

While there are still miles to go before self-driving automobiles are federally approved and mainstream, projects by Google, Tesla Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo continue the push toward this becoming a reality. In that day, you wouldn’t need to focus on the road because the car would do the driving, enabling you to focus on watching your favorite TV show, check your email, or talk to friends….all at the same time!

So, in the short-term, watch for more integrations where your car takes inputs from your mobile phone, while in the longer term of five to 10 years expect to see more self-driven cars and technologies moving into view.

Mike Gingerich leads the Social Application division of web design company, Digital Hill Multimedia (http://www.DigitalHill.com). He is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing with contests and promotions. For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.