There could be some criticism of Google’s Android this year for trying to continue the touchscreen trend that’s being employed in various hi-tech cars this year. Reports have already been out that those who bemoaned texting and driving think touchscreens are just as bad or worse. Google’s Android is working on a touchscreen called Android Auto that’s reportedly going to be a more integrated approach to touchscreen technology so everything will be connected and easier to use. Considering you still have to tap icons on the screen, is this still going to be a danger on the road, or has Google set off a new revolution in multitasking while we drive?
The idea of being distracted while driving has already been a problem for generations, especially in the area of everyone talking too much in the car. In the earlier days of driving, the act of families gabbing together while on the road was all part of the driving experience. We at least evolved ourselves to a point where we could pay basic attention to traffic while still being able to converse with friends and family in the back seat. This isn’t to say that someone talking too much when you’re trying to navigate in more challenging terrain (as in a big city) can’t still cause an accident.
Then the cell phone came along, even if the early, oversized cell phones forced us to pull over to the side of the road when making a call. Somehow we became more adept at holding a cell phone while we drive as the phones got smaller, and many might argue that some drivers can still drive well while holding one to their ear. Accident trends, however, have been alarming in showing how not everybody evolves well at the same time. Texting on our smartphones has almost been proven to be our waterloo in being able to drive and communicate something usually unimportant in a text message.
While part of the above problem may be related to speeding more than the texting, the correlation between the two hasn’t really been studied yet. You have to wonder that if we drove at a normal speed or just slowed down in a slow lane while texting, our brains would still be able to handle both things at once.
Many of the touchscreens available in luxury cars today involve you having to take your eyes away from the road in order to activate something. But Google is trying to avoid this with Android Auto by using a bigger screen and more intuitive icons that don’t require having to stare at the screen when gaining access to apps. In this case, Google is going to consolidate everything so it works like a smartphone with intention of letting driving and app activation become almost one.
The only debate right now is whether we can evolve ourselves to the point where Android Auto lets us successfully multitask in a safe way while we drive.
Can We Evolve Quickly to Consolidating Driving with Other Tasks?
Evolution has been on a fast track in the world of technology when you look at how much we’ve assimilated it into our lives virtually overnight. Just 15 years ago, we weren’t using wireless devices or running incredible apps on our phones while multitasking. Google played some part in this evolution, and it’s obvious they realize they can evolve people into being able to use a touchscreen pad while driving.
Driving safety advocates are already concerned about what’s going to happen once these get into every car. The faster they can be integrated, though, the faster we’ll integrate it into our lives to a point where the screen and driving are within the same visual field. Some experiments are even being done right now with augmented reality on windshields rather than on a screen. CNN did a report on this over two years ago when Mercedes-Benz showed off the tech at the Consumer Electronics Show.
There hasn’t been much talk about the above becoming a reality since, perhaps because Google is always on the fast track first. Over the next few years, it may come down to touchscreens vs. augmented reality on windshields in determining which one can help evolve us faster to multitasked driving experiences. Whichever technology wins will likely change us as drivers to a point where we can accomplish more while traveling, yet still stay sharp to all the unexpected chaos on the road.