Smart(er) cars

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At the beginning of the semester we did a quick write-up on how we predicted mass media and interaction would look in the future. I wrote that our media technology would become even more essential to our lives, becoming less about devices we carry around and more about the physical spaces we exist and interact in – namely, smarter cars and houses.

I’ve now got proof that my predictions were correct! At least in terms of smart(er) cars. I found this list of up-and-coming developments in auto technology. Here’s a few media and communications related developments:

1. Built-in Wifi

If you asked me to identify a single technological advancement that I thought would become a part of our near-future, I would have said getting Wifi in cars. Let’s be honest – it feels like the next logical step. If you’ve ever been on a long road trip, you’ve probably wished at some point or another you could get internet access to help you pass the time (I sure have). Maybe you’re stuck in an epic traffic jam, with no end in sight. Or maybe your GPS lost its signal because you’re driving out in the boonies. Internet in cars? Yes, please. Currently, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet offer built-in 4G LTE Wifi hotspots in select vehicles, but I think this will soon become a universal feature across car companies.

2. GPS Traffic Analysis

Speaking of GPS, we’re getting a lot of advancements in GPS and traffic communications that come straight from your car, too. Many vehicles come with built-in GPS systems now, but the next step is the kind that comes with traffic analysis systems and real-time traffic information. Acura now offers a Real-Time Traffic feature with their GPS system that allows users to avoid accidents, bad weather conditions, and construction on their trip. There’s also a traffic light information system being developed which will alert drivers when the next green light will be – and how fast they have to drive to get there.

green light alert

3. Built-in Phone Access

Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay allow important phone information to sync and be displayed on car dashboards. These developments are great examples of responding to the public and consumer demands. People use their phones when they drive – even when it’s dangerous – so the companies responded with what the public wanted: easier access to their cell phones while driving. I’m not sure how much this truly increases people’s safety (seeing as they’re just shifting their focus from one screen to another) but the development has potential.

phone on dash

4. Voice Recognition

This is a pretty cool, sci-fi type advancement: UConnect, installed in a number of vehicles for Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Jeep, uses voice recognition software to communicate with drivers. For instance, you can ask your car “Where is the nearest gas station?” and the car will respond with directions, etc. It’s also worth noting that combining this voice recognition software with the phone-dashboard software from #3 could eliminate the dangers of fiddling with a screen while driving.

5. Crash Detection

An expansion of roadside assistance services like OnStar, the latest on crash detection software in cars can automatically dial 911 and dispatch help to the scene of an accident. Companies like Ford and GM use cellular connectivity to reach out to your personal emergency contacts as well. This could be a life-saving development for someone who is knocked unconscious or becomes trapped during an accident.

emergency

That’s the status on mass comm + smart cars for now, but I’d recommend looking over this entire list about the latest in car tech – there’s a lot of promising safety and convenience developments in the works, too.

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