The Car Tech Travesty
I'm a bit of a car guy. Mind you, I can't do much to fix a car, nor will I claim to be a great driver. But I admire cars, and I enjoy driving down a mountain road as much as anyone. I'd take a Mustang over a Camry any day of the week, even if it means making my friends do their best pretzel impression whenever they need a ride.
Since I enjoy cars, and I enjoy technology, you'd think that I'd love finding tech in cars. Yet my experience so far has been dismal. Poor implementation continues to be a problem, with many manufacturers struggling to create a voice recognition solution that doesn't think you want to call Bryce Dean whenever you ask navigation to find the nearest ice cream shop. Even touchscreens, a technology that's mature in the consumer electronics market, are often poorly implemented in cars.
My negative impressions don't stand alone. Car tech is often criticized by journalists, and even more frequently by owners, who often aren't as familiar with technology as the reviewers who spend their days driving and writing about cars. Ford's recent MyFord Touch, for example, was supposed to be a cutting-edge system blending the intuitive ease of a touchscreen with old-fashioned automotive controls. Instead it's been a bit of a disaster, roundly blasted for its confusing interface and instability.
The problem only becomes worse when a car's typical lifespan is considered. Smartphones are often replaced every two years, but that's okay, because they only cost a few hundred dollars, and can be subsidized by carriers. Cars, however, cost tens of thousands of dollars. Only a small number of buyers can afford to purchase a new car every three or four years. In fact, many users can only buy a car used - which means any technology will be far out of date from the moment the buyer sits in the seat.
Image Credit: GM Inside News