Infotainment Pros and Cons

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touch screenYoung prospective drivers, who will line up to take their driving tests on Tuesday, can’t imagine a time when DVD players and internet access were left behind on a road trip.

Society has rapidly and easily grown accustomed to the many convenient technological marvels which were considered a futuristic fantasy less than a decade ago.

In some ways these bold new extravagances are not only helpful, but are also designed with safety in mind. In other ways, they can be distracting and even unsafe if not used properly.


LCD-Touch Screens

Providing the driver with a wealth of information, the liquid crystal display (LCD)  touch screen display is becoming increasingly prevalent in automobile production. Small cars have them, large luxury cars have them, even pickup trucks and SUVs have them; but are they really necessary? A one word answer to that question would be “no”, but a little closer examination of the facts could prove that the LCD monitor is pretty helpful.

  • Navigation systems display critical data using the LCD monitor. The decision between using a folding map or using an LCD monitor while driving is a “no-brainer.” Even obtaining driving directions by using an i-phone is more strenuous for a driver than looking at the LCD monitor.
  • Monitoring vehicle systems can also be made easier with the LCD display. Creative designs and color displays can more effectively relay information to the driver in the event of vehicle malfunction.
  • LCD monitors also provide a display screen for rear-view cameras, thus allowing the driver to observe oncoming objects more readily.
  • Touch-screen display units allow the driver to quickly and easily process information by simply touching the appropriate area of the screen; easier than fumbling for remotely located devices, buttons, and switches.

State-of-the-art LCD monitors also utilize voice recognition technology to aid the vehicle operator in safely selecting system functions, as well as accessing information.

Voice Recognition Technology(VRT)

By allowing the driver to access various vehicle entertainment, communication, and control functions by voice command alone, this technology allows him/her to focus more thoroughly on driving and vehicle operation.

Voice recognition technology typically operates in two phases. In the first phase a recorded voice is analyzed to form a voice print, voice profile, or a voice model. This voice pattern model is then stored for comparison in the second phase. In the second, or verification phase, the voice is recorded and compared against previously recorded samples which control varying vehicle and component functions.

“Hands-free” communication functions, audio controls, and even electronically powered windows, sunroofs, mirrors, and seating are currently being operated using voice recognition technology. Many models offer voice recognition electronic door locks and engine starting, as well.

One key draw back to VRT is that ambient noise can reduce its effectiveness and act to confuse possible commanded component usage.

Communication functions, particularly where they pertain to telephone usage while operating a motor vehicle, can be made infinitely safer with the use of voice recognition technology. Most vehicle crashes, associated with cell phone usage, occur while the driver attempts to accurately locate an outgoing phone number and facilitate a call. Voice recognition technology can make finding a phone number and dialing as easy as saying the name of the individual who you wish to contact.

Other functions, such as engine starting, can leave more room for error and should be carefully considered prior to activation.

These two cutting-edge technologies can be very helpful when used in conjunction with one another. Other infotainment systems, such as audio systems, internet access, and DVD entertainment systems can provide passengers with hours of entertainment, as well. However, with driver distraction being statistically the chief cause of automotive accidents, these technological advancements should always be used in a responsible manner.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.