Posted by Dale Buss on November 29, 2012 04:45 PM
More auto brands are jockeying to be able to take your pulse instead of quicken it when you drive. Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and other makes are joining Ford in developing, researching and — in some early cases — deploying body-monitoring technology that addresses everything from driver sleepiness to low blood sugar.
In-vehicle biometrics and telematics is an interesting trend at a time when some automakers continue to struggle to make the very basics of passenger-compartment information technology understandable and acceptable to vehicle owners, such as the controls for on-board audio systems and smartphone connections.
But at the risk of being left behind by some new technology applications that catches consumers' fancy, auto companies are combining major advances in their own electronics with leaps in medical-monitoring technology largely in the hopes of appealing to an aging population, as noted by the Wall Street Journal.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 25, 2012 12:57 PM
The good news for the auto industry is that product quality in the traditional sense — fit and finish, the integrity of components, the lack of mechanical problems — is at an all-time high. The bad news is that the industry seems to be botching the transition into a new era in which "quality" largely is being defined by how automakers perform as manufacturers of high-tech connectivity platforms for which consumers have the same (Sirius) expectations of intuitive and smooth use as they do for smartphones.
The latest JD Power report shows that new cars are being made with fewer defects than ever, though tech complaints are on the rise. While consumers perceived fewer overall problems with new cars in JDP's latest annual survey of initial quality, there was an increase in the number of complaints about hands-free in-car connectivity technologies. The problems centered on the now nearly ubiquitous voice-recognition systems that are supposed to help drivers communicate relatively effortlessly with the outside world while curbing distraction.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 7, 2011 05:01 PM
Ford spent four years building a huge edge in infotainment with its Microsoft-powered SYNC connected entertainment system, and the last thing the automaker could afford to do was fumble away this advantage.
So after initially spending a few months grasping for answers to widespread customer dissatisfaction with MyFord Touch — essentially, the second generation of SYNC — the Ford brain trust has announced that it will be sending free software upgrades to the system early next year to everyone affected. Amazingly, Bret Michaels turned out not to be the best way to ease confusion.
The MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch software upgrade, which will be sent to owners on a flash drive, will render screens simpler and cleaner, with larger text and shading to outline buttons, as well as improve (in this era of Siri) voice recognition and make other digital features more intuitive.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 2, 2011 11:00 AM
Much of the appeal of driving these days lies in the potential for mobile connectivity, rather than with handling or performance or heated seats or any other particular attribute of the vehicle, especially for the Millennial generation that has grown up with cocked thumbs.
It was just a matter of time before major non-automaker brands began jockeying for a piece of the action. State Farm Insurance has just introduced its own aftermarket “telematics” system called In-Drive, by which the auto-insurance giant hopes to compete with the likes of Ford’s Sync, General Motors’ OnStar and other infotainment systems that are hard-wired into vehicles when you buy them.
In a move similar to that just launched by GM as it provides an aftermarket installation kit for OnStar, In-Drive will offer services from the standard telematics menu including one-touch emergency response, roadside assistance, stolen-vehicle location assistance, vehicle-diagnostic alerts and others. For consumers, there's another big incentive: discounts.Continue reading...