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Tricked-Out Cars Trickling Down

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the telematics-for-the-masses dept.

Toys 233

Good sends us to an IBTimes article on the expanding trend for more options for electronic gadgetry — telematics — in cars. Manufacturers are including more high-tech options in more models, including low-end models, as component prices drop and as the car makers attempt to sell to a demographic that has grown up surrounded by personal electronics. According to a telematics analyst, Bluetooth hands-free modules for cell phones will be available on more than a third of car models sold in the US in 2007, and auxiliary jacks for iPods in nearly half. From the article: "One of the industry's more advanced systems will be Ford's Sync, which connects digital music players to the car's voice-control communications system and reads aloud cell-phone text messages and has 20 preset text-message responses... The flash memory-based system, controlled through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, is based on a Microsoft Corp. operating system for cars."

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Microsoft BSOD Jokes Welcome... (2, Funny)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255614)

Wind Screen of Death perhaps?

Microsoft BSOD Jokes Welcome...woops! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255788)

Blasted Slippage of Doom.

Boom, Suck, Open, Dump. Words often associated with the Goatse.cx guy.

"Blue Screen of Death
  In a surprise announcement today, Microsoft President Steve Ballmer revealed that the Redmond-based company will allow computer resellers and end-users to customize the appearance of the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), the screen that displays when the Windows operating system crashes.

The move comes as the result of numerous focus groups and customer surveys done by Microsoft. Thousands of Microsoft customers were asked, "What do you spend the most time doing on your computer?"

A surprising number of respondents said, "Staring at a Blue Screen of Death." At 54 percent, it was the top answer, beating the second place answer "Downloading XXXScans" by an easy 12 points.

"We immediately recognized this as a great opportunity for ourselves, our channel partners, and especially our customers," explained the excited Ballmer to a room full of reporters.

Immense video displays were used to show images of the new customizable BSOD screen side-by-side with the older static version. Users can select from a collection of "BSOD Themes," allowing them to instead have a Mauve Screen of Death or even a Paisley Screen of Death. Graphics and multimedia content can now be incorporated into the screen, making the BSOD the perfect conduit for delivering product information and entertainment to Windows users.

The BSOD is by far the most recognized feature of the Windows operating system, and as a result, Microsoft has historically insisted on total control over its look and feel. This recent departure from that policy reflects Microsoft's recognition of the Windows desktop itself as the "ultimate information portal." By default, the new BSOD will be configured to show a random selection of Microsoft product information whenever the system crashes. Microsoft channel partners can negotiate with Microsoft for the right to customize the BSOD on systems they ship.

Major computer resellers such as Compaq, Gateway, and Dell are already lining up for premier placement on the new and improved BSOD. Ballmer concluded by getting a dig in against the Open Source community. "This just goes to show that Microsoft continues to innovate at a much faster pace than open source. I have yet to see any evidence that Linux even has a BSOD, let alone a customizable one.""

Re:Microsoft BSOD Jokes Welcome...woops! (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256022)

The flash memory-based system, controlled through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, is based on a Microsoft Corp. operating system for cars.
Just as long as Microsoft code doesn't control operation of the car. Would give the computing term "crash" a whole new meaning ;-)

Re:Microsoft BSOD Jokes Welcome...woops! (0, Troll)

NealokNYU (779603) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256690)

I was reading the preview through the RSS feed on my Google homepage, and when I found out the OS was from MS, I IMMEDIATELY clicked the link, anticipating a smörgåsbord of snarky comments directed toward Microsoft. And as usual, Slashdot did not disappoint.

/. "Predictable entertainment for anyone who dislikes Microsoft."

remember the good old days (4, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255616)

From the article:

..., The flash memory-based system, controlled through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, is based on a Microsoft Corp. operating system for cars.

Sheeesh, I remember the good old days when the joke began with: "If Microsoft made cars..."

Re:remember the good old days (2, Funny)

evil agent (918566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255694)

"I know I was speeding officer, but it wasn't my fault. I haven't been able to remove this damn virus..."

Re:remember the good old days (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256384)

"...and if cars were like computers, they'd crash twice a day, yet, for some reason, nobody would find this odd."

Oh. My. God. It's finally come full circle.

The other good old days (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255898)

Remember when people designed cards for driving? All this in-car entertainment etc cannot be really contributing to good driving.

As for voice commanded anything, watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkeC7HpsHxo [youtube.com] . I've worked with vehicle electronics for quite a while, any wonder that I drive a 1980s car with manual everything?

Re:The other good old days (4, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255962)

I agree. I'm reading your comment while driving right now$#*U#U*#FCG *CARRIER LOST*

Re:The other good old days (3, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256222)

Remember when people designed cars for driving? All this in-car entertainment etc cannot be really contributing to good driving.
Instead of rolling entertainment I'd like to see accident avoidance technology become more common place. I think it's Mercedes Benz that has all kinds of road sensors for keeping the car between the lines and at safe distances from the vehicle in front. Makes more sense to me than hands free telephone in the car.

Driving a hybrid I'd like to see GPS data used to improve efficiency of hybrids and other efficient vehicles. Knowing what's coming up, as far as hills and such, could allow the car to better handle cruise control to make better use of the electric motor / batteries. All the technology is in the car already, it just doesn't talk to each other yet.

How about people learn to drive? (2, Insightful)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256368)

People always want easier cars; cars that drive for them. How about we tell people that you can't have a smart car until your a smart person? Sounds like a plan to me.... driving not a right, it's a privilege and a lot of people do not deserve it. The more the car does, the less the person pays attention.

Re:The other good old days (2, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256422)

> Remember when people designed cards for driving

Nobody designs cards for driving. Heck, nobody designs cards for drivers (software), except, I suppose, a few custom one-offs done by spy departments for insertion in bad guy's computers by Bond work-alikes.

Re:The other good old days (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256544)

As for voice commanded anything

I've checked out the 2007 Infiniti G35 w/ Voice command, I was expecting difficulties but it actually worked like a dream. Others manufacturers have access to this tech (its likely licensed from an independant company, much like the Map DVD's). Its definately on the plus side of upgrading.

All this in-car entertainment etc cannot be really contributing to good driving.

Its a different source of music. I can change stations, songs, CD's, etc with a flick of my thumb on steering wheel mounted controls, so unless you propose driving in silence, yeah, it contributes to less need to dig through my car to swap CD's or twirl the dial on the radio looking for a song I like, hence, better driving. Likewise, if my car has a Bluetooth headset so I am not tempted to dig through my pocket and answer my phone with 1 hand on my ear, etc, its a good thing.

I've worked with vehicle electronics for quite a while, any wonder that I drive a 1980s car with manual everything?

Do you realize how much more polluntants your carburated 1980's car dumps into the air? How much less efficient it is compared to a equivalent 2007 model? I drive a modern car with a 6 speed manual, it has ABS which even if I could outbrake it in ideal conditions, impending accidents tend to occupy my mind with things other than perfect braking form, and traction control that works wonders in all but the worst of snow and can be quickly turned off if I really want to do something unwise. Automatic climate control means no futzing with the HVAC while the temperature swings wildly, etc.

Then again, if you work with vehicle electronics and don't trust them, maybe you just suck at vehicle electronics?

car of the future (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255628)

car's voice-control communications system and reads aloud cell-phone text messages and has 20 preset text-message responses... The flash memory-based system, controlled through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, is based on a Microsoft Corp. operating system for cars."

Read text messages? I cant wait till cars have accident prediction. DANGER! IMPACT! 3:00! Of course the ultimate would be a car that can drive you home after youve had too much to drink.

Trickle-down (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255630)

Why is the water warm and yellow?

stupid (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255632)

and auxiliary jacks for iPods in nearly half


Do they literally mean iPod specific, or do they simply mean that factory radios with aux line-inputs will be more commonplace?

Christ I hate how people think that iPod's are the only thing someone would hook up to car's sound system via aux-in.

sarcasm (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255714)

Christ I hate how people think that iPod's are the only thing someone would hook up to car's sound system via aux-in.

What do you mean? Apple *invented* the 3.5mm minijack.

Re:sarcasm (5, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255984)

What do you mean? Apple *invented* the 3.5mm minijack.

I can't believe people are still trotting out this tired old line. Apple licensed Xerox's 1/4 inch jack technology, made a few tweaks and shipped it in a smaller footprint.

Re:sarcasm (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256454)

What do you mean? Apple *invented* the 3.5mm minijack.

I can't believe people are still trotting out this tired old line. Apple licensed Xerox's 1/4 inch jack technology, made a few tweaks and shipped it in a smaller footprint.


I.e. Apple *invented* the 3.5mm minijack.

Henry Ford didn't invent the car. He didn't invent the assembly line. He didn't invent mass production. He just brought the three together, which any old body could do.

Re:stupid (3, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255792)

For those of us who do have actual iPods, having a dock connector is better than a minijack because it can be used to transmit control signals in addition to the audio.

Re:stupid (2, Informative)

Buran (150348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255800)

"Do they literally mean iPod specific, or do they simply mean that factory radios with aux line-inputs will be more commonplace?"

In my case I'm ordering a car (by midweek, actually) with a Dock Connector, but the same vehicle can also be had with line-in. Your choice. I'd like to see the ID3 tags on the screen and have good integration with the iPod, but some people do want more flexibility.

The car will also have built-in navigation, dual-zone climate control (no arguing over temp), tire pressure monitoring (required starting in late summer '07 thanks to Firestone/Ford), traction control (I think to be required starting in '08 - can someone substantiate that?) and the car is now controlled by changing coding in the central computer using special software for things that were once controlled/changed by wiring work. For instance, instead of taping over a contact on the headlight switch to disable DRLs, you now change a code in the car's computer. (I'm not sure yet whether I will do that; DRLs do enhance safety, and will it really make that much difference in the lifetime of a D2S HID bulb? If one fails it is not really that hard to replace it and ideally the bulbs will outlast the car.)

Re:stupid (2, Interesting)

0x15e (961860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255834)

Actually, they probably do mean iPod specific. There are plenty of new cars that come with iPod control options (control through the steering wheel or head unit, similarly to a CD changer). From what I've read, most of these leave a lot to be desired.

I'd actually prefer a standard AUX in, personally.

Re:adhesive bandages (1)

the dark hero (971268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255840)

Christ I hate how people think that iPod's are the only thing someone would hook up to car's sound system via aux-in.

People associate products usually by the most popular brand. "Band-Aid" is pretty commonly used because adhesive bandages is too cumbersome. In the south if you want a soda pop you ask for a "coke." It's nothing new, but it can be rather annoying

Re:adhesive bandages (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256050)

Yeah, I'd like a lemonade coke please.

http://popvssoda.com/ [popvssoda.com]

Re:adhesive bandages (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256352)

I'd never heard of "Band-Aid" before I went to the US - apart from in association with the good works of Sir Bob et al, of course.

We use the term "plaster". Seems simple enough.

Re:adhesive bandages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256546)

Yeah, but we also say tissue and photocopier.

In fact, it seems like for quite a few things we're good at separating brand and product, but we don't seem to be doing too well on iPod/MP3 player.

Re:stupid (1)

edbob (960004) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255888)

I asked about this at the Chicago Auto Show last month. It appears to be Bluetooth based and will work with any Bluetooth device. I assume that an iPod would need some sort of adapter.

Re:stupid (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255896)

Personally, I would like something iPod specific. Right now, the touch wheel pad thingy (that really is the technical term, believe it or not) isn't that great for navigation while driving. You hit a bump, and bang! Now you're listening to some crappy 80's song that you never deleted.

While driving, I would rather use knobs and buttons to navigate my iPod menu. Obviously, others will have different preferences.

Re:stupid (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256204)

So you take a technical flaw in the ipod, and argue that the car should be have a propritary interface further locking you into that flawed platform. Brilliant!

(I have many similar complaints with the ipod, but have simply decided not to buy another one)

Re:stupid (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256408)

Well here's the thing...

The "technical flaw" that you refer to, the iPod interface, is almost universally agreed upon as outstanding and instrumental in the Ipod's massive success.

That it is mildly inconvenient to use while performing certain other tasks is not quite what I would call a "flawed platform". Sure it's not perfect. It's just really, really good.

Re:stupid (2, Funny)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255986)

I know how you feel. I've been waiting for ages to take my turntable on the road with me.

Re:stupid (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256080)

I have mixed feelings about any jacks. I'm going to get myself in an accident someday because I'm fiddling with my mp3 player instead of watching the road.

Re:stupid (1)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256082)

funny thing is .. ALL stereos have an AUX port. It is just that they use to be always int he back of the unit. So you need to pull it out and add an extension cable. It was a non-issue because they all had tape decks, so you can use a tape adapter to plug something in.

But with CDs common now and tapes going the way of the dodo, that access point is gone and the AUX port is needed in an easier to access location.

So now this "new feature" has just been moved from the back to the front.. where it should have been all along.

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256278)

funny thing is .. ALL stereos have an AUX port.

Spoken like a clueless nitwit. The funny thing is, only a few stereos have an aux on the back of the unit. The system would at a minimum need an "Aux" input selector before this can even be an option, and I'd bet than less the 10% of cars on teh road have this, including cars like mine that have a specific SAT input which can be hijacked for use as an AUX input with an adapter kit.

Great. Microsoft Windshield. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255642)

They can't even get a stable OS for a personal computer. Now they want to move onto automobiles.

What if it crashes? Will they be liable for damages then?

"Wow" indeed.

Re:Great. Microsoft Windshield. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255966)

Microsoft has 3 major code bases for operating systems that I know of. Of those, one was unstable, one was reasonably stable (in that it had an uptime of more than 160 hours) and the third is as stable as any operating system out there.

Windows AutoPC is a branch off of the third- but is designed to only control NON-mission-critical applications. In other words, it controls your radio and navigator, but not your fuel injectors and adaptive cruise control.

Re:Great. Microsoft Windshield. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256730)

More than that, it is separated from the vehicle information bus (e.g. CAN, J-1850) by a separate, simple processor. You can't get anywhere near the car's bus with a complex 32 bit processor with gigundo software that could crash and cause problems. (Embedded folk, of "Oh, our 16 bit processor has tons of RAM for this project -- 16k!" fame.)

Re:Great. Microsoft Windshield. (1)

praxis (19962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256096)

They can't? What's this Vista that's been running on this box with no crashes since...(let me check the build number)...August 18th. Yeah, I haven't upgraded to RTM yet, but that's because I don't have time and everything has been working just fine.

Drivers, now that's a different story.

Re:Great. Microsoft Windshield. (1)

bronzey214 (997574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256250)

Well, clearly you're doing something wrong for your PC to not crash every week or so.

Where's the wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255650)

Where's the built in dynamic Mesh wifi or MeshMax for every vehicle? Imagine if every car was an open AP. Not much need for ISPs anymore when broadband access is so ubiquitous and low cost. Screw bluetooth.

Re:Where's the wifi? (1)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255764)

One thing I wondered about that: if wifi was built into cars, would laptops then have to compensate for the Doppler Effect?

Re:Where's the wifi? (1)

ion711 (1027800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256034)

New cars: now with that many more things that can go break and go wrong. I don't seem to be in sync with trends. I'd like a simple car. My dad just bought a Honda Element. It might not be that attractive, but I'm thinking about getting one. It's simple (automatic all wheel drive aside; I'd prefer the standard four wheel drive. I'd also prefer a manual transmission). Honda has even done away with the carpet on the inside. Nothing fancy, just lots of space to relax in. No fancy gizmos, computers, or toys that will cost half as much as the car itself to when they finally become sentient and try to kill everybody inside.

CTRL-ALT-Delete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255652)

Does it come with CTRL+ALT+Delete keys on the steering wheels to reset the car when i crash it?

Just what we need (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255662)

More gadgets distracting people as they drive.

Re:Just what we need (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255724)

That's one way of looking at it. Another is that if you have an objection to gadgets, you should pursue a legislative solution. Yet another is that stuff like a BT hands-free set built in will actually encourage folks to have both hands on the wheel.

Life is full of trade-offs.

Re:Just what we need (2, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255794)

Except I have read a few articles where the research has shown it's not the issue of both hands being on the wheel, it's the actual conversation on the phone which distracts the drivers and there has been no evidence hands free reduces accidents. Once you take you mind off the road (phone, computer, eating, fighting with someone in the car, etc) that's what causes the accidents. I see no reason to have all this stuff available to the driver when DRIVING. The safety of the driver and others is greater then their need to check stocks, email, etc.

Re:Just what we need (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255868)

The odd thing is that the studies show that talking with someone in the car is not nearly as distracting. My theory is that is because your attention is still on something in the immediate environment. When talking on a phone, the mind is elsewhere. The phone provides a lower bandwidth data link (no body language, etc.) and so more imagination is used to fill in the details. But that's just my theory, the data speaks for itself: any phone use in a car is dangerous.

Re:Just what we need (2, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255894)

That is interesting to say the least. I wonder if it's because the other people in the car can sense dangerous situations and be quiet. But overall I think adding any distractions to the driver is just a bad idea. Have gadgets in the car fine; don't make them available to the driver if driving.

Re:Just what we need (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255982)

I wonder if it's because the other people in the car can sense dangerous situations and be quiet.

Or scream loudly, as the situation requires. :-) That certainly sounds like it could be a contributing factor.

But overall I think adding any distractions to the driver is just a bad idea. Have gadgets in the car fine; don't make them available to the driver if driving.

Well put. Gadgets are fine, any distractions to the driver are bad. Driving is probably the single most dangerous thing any of us do on a day to day basis. In America, driving is treated as a right, not a privilege and it is very hard to take away a person's drivers license. Since driving is seen as a right, driver's education is seen as unnecessary or a mere formality. I've driven in other countries and Americans are some of the worst drivers I've encountered.

Not you with the mod points, you're an excellent driver. Those other Americans.

Re:Just what we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256268)

That's not "your theory", you read it in Discover magazine a couple years ago. Don't pretend you know anything about the neurology of speech processing.

Re:Just what we need (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256482)

It'd be interesting to see studies done where the bandwidth/voice quality to the person at the other end of the phone was varried and the level of distraction of the driver measured. I bet the better the voice quality the less brain power you have to devote to understanding the conversation and the less it takes away from your driving.

Re:Just what we need (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256538)

Now that would be an interesting study to say the least. But still I think having all gadgets that will distract the driver is a bad move. Make sure they can't work for the driver when driving. I guess I'm just from the old school of "pay attention when driving".

Re:Just what we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256216)

Agreed. Its not uncommon to see people bracing their iPods on the steering wheel watching movies, with little if any attention paid to the road ahead.

Not only that (1)

aztec rain god (827341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256498)

Just more stuff that will break the week after the warranty runs out. This is why I just bought a pickup (02 Tacoma)- thank god Toyota still makes vehicles with the bare necessities- no power windows, no power locks, two knobs on the radio, 3 knobs on the heater, manual tranny, simple shifter to get in/out of 4wd. Granted, not all are car luddites like me, but at least there's still a choice.

not interested in "windows for wheels" (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255664)

period.

If Microsoft made cars (3, Informative)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255682)

The flash memory-based system, controlled through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, is based on a Microsoft Corp. operating system for cars.
This old email joke doesn't seem quite as funny now.

If Microsoft made cars
1. A particular model year of car wouldn't be available until AFTER that year, instead of before.
2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road, you'd have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would just die for no reason, you'd have to restart it. For some strange reason, you would just accept this.
4. You could only have one person at a time in your car, unless you bought a car '95 or a car NT, but then you'd have to buy more seats.
5. You would be constantly pressured to upgrade your car. Wait a sec, it's that way NOW!
6. Sun Motorsystems would make a car that was solar powered, twice as reliable, 5 times as fast, but only ran on 5% of the roads.
7. The oil, alternator, gas, engine warning lights would be replaced with a single "General Car Fault" warning light.
8. People would get excited about the "new" features in Microsoft cars, forgetting completely that they had been available in other brands for years.
9. We would still be waiting on the "6000 sux 58'" model to come out.
10. We'd all have to switch to Microsoft Gas (tm).
11. Lee Iacocca would be hired-on as Bill G.'s chauffeur.
12. The US government would be GETTING subsidies from an automaker, instead of giving them.
13. New seats will force everyone to have the same size ass.
14. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler would all be complaining because Microsoft was putting a radio in all its models.

Re:If Microsoft made cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256576)

15. If the car freeze, you would have to exit the car and get back in. :-D

So (2, Funny)

aitikin (909209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255710)

How long will it take to get Linux on this thing!?

Re:So (2, Funny)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256262)

a Beowulf cluster of cars!

Ford + Microsoft = ??? (2, Insightful)

MattyCobb (695086) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255716)

I mean I use Windows and while I don't drive an American car I am all for getting our auto industry out of the shitter, but c'mon... Ford + Microsoft = works well? I just don't see that happening...

read text messages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255736)

you wouldn't want your teenage daughter's text messages to be read aloud would you?

HAI GRRL IM @ PARTAY :3 K THX LUV YA!!!

Mixed Blessing (3, Interesting)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255778)

Though it's nice to have all these gadgets and options, I worry about upgrades. For example, I specifically didn't get a navigation system because I don't want to be locked in to something that costs more to upgrade in the future (if it's possible at all).

An audio jack though, should be available in every new car. I don't see the minijack going away anytime soon.

What about real "Crashes"? (2, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255790)

With all of the peripheral electronics involved I only hope that they are smart enough to separate this from the safety functions of the car. If the MS OS crashes and the airbags fail or the car becomes unresponsive this could be a real tragedy. Ford + MS is hardly the kind of combo I would be willing to trust.

The wave of the future (4, Funny)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255818)

Car: "You are about to apply the brakes. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Allow."
Car: "The brakes are about to be applied. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Allow!"
Car: "The car is about to slow down. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Allow, dammit!"
Car: "The car is about to hit that truck. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Shit!"

Crunch

Re:The wave of the future (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256220)

Car: "The car is about to hit that truck. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Shit!"

Apparently, you are too stupid to cancel that request...

Re:The wave of the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256522)

Car: "The car is about to hit that truck. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Shit!"
Apparently, you are too stupid to cancel that request...

I dunno. Seems about right to me. You say it and, if the accident is bad enough, you do it.

No way out (1)

Lukasz (Qr) (959203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256322)

User: Turn off the engine
Car: Do you want to Shut Down or Stand By, Hibernate, Logout or Switch user?
User: uggh?

Re:The wave of the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256334)

Car: "You are about to apply the brakes. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Allow."
Car: "The brakes are about to be applied. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Allow!"
Car: "The car is about to slow down. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Allow, dammit!"
Car: "The car is about to hit that truck. Cancel or allow?"
You: "Shit!"


I think this might be the time to shout "CANCEL!!!". Wonder what cancelling hitting the truck will do...?

Maybe... (1, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255822)

They could focus more on mileage, pollution, quality, etc. of cars then the bells and whistles?

Now, more distracted drivers (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255828)

Tricked-Out Cars Trickling Down
Did anyone else initially interpret that as Tricked-Out cars becoming less popular? Oh well..

Re:Now, more distracted drivers (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256030)

Actually, I interpreted it as something that probably won't happen until at least 2010, and even then might not happen until 2017 or so- these bells and whistles that are included on new cars now being available to the 78% of the population who will *never* be able to afford to buy a new car, merely because the previous owner had it.

My wife now has a CD player built into a radio that gives her the song titles of songs on radio stations for that reason- in her new-to-her 2002 Chevy Venture.

No thanks, I drive a Jeep TJ (2, Interesting)

Ars Dilbert (852117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255850)

No power anything, no heated seats, no GPS, nothing. Just the frame, the tub, the engine, power trane (tranny, transfer case, axles, suspension, drive shafts...), wheels, two front seats, pedals, steering, and the instrument cluster. I even had the stereo taken out to keep honest people honest when the top is off.

And you know what? It's not only fine, but it is comfortable and it is the most fun vehicle to drive...

Advertising? (5, Funny)

markbt73 (1032962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255856)

This is going to change car ads as we know them....

Young hipster: Hello, I'm a Scion XB.
Middle-age guy in a suit: And I'm a Ford Expedition.
YH: We both have four doors.
MAH: Four wheels.
YH: And an engine.
MAH: But that's where the similarities end. You see, I have room for seven.
YH: So? I have room for five.
MAH: And I can tow 6000 pounds.
YH: And yet, we both spend most of our time in traffic, with just one person inside. What's your MPG again?
MAH: ...Like, twelve... Hey, what's that backing-up-and-turning maneuver you're doing?
YH: It's called parallel parking.
MAH: ...Wish I could do that...

Re:Advertising? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255938)

How about: Old Car (pree 1998) OC New Car NC OC: Oops I backed into a pole at 5mph looks like I have a little scratch. NC: That's nothing OC: Nothing? NC: Ya when I back into a pole at 5 mph I cause about $5000 dollars of repairs to myself.

Re:Advertising? (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256588)

hehe

You forgot EOC: Even older car (1974)

EOC: I hope they don't mind that i scratched their pole....

hehe, my old 2000lb Opel would take out the pole causing 5 grand in damage to a new SUV. 10-mph bumpers rule. Isn't progress wonderful?

We traded in safety in major accidents for totally obsurd costs in minor (can we still call them that, the car would probably disagree) accidents.

One problem tho, the 8-track would probably skip when i hit the pole :(

Admittedly i did like the gadgets on my old t-bird 1990ish, automatic windshield wipers and auto headlight dimming, stock EQ and a zillion seat buttons. But heaven forbid anything happen to any of it, cheaper to get a new car than fix. I wonder about all these cool features when they are on a used car and only half work, will it seem crippled?

Re:Advertising? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256634)

So basically car quality went down as pole quality went up...lol

Neat... (3, Insightful)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255864)

Fun gadgets are great, but how about making vehicles more user-serviceable? I can fix anything on my '96, but my mom's^w girlfriend's '06 is a mystery to me. On many Kia models, you can't even change the oil without special tools.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." -- Antoine de Saint-Exuper
Oh, and check my spinners!

wouldn't it be better if (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255890)

these gadgets were left to the people that know how to use them well? most cars don't have cd players that read mp3 discs (when last i checked) because most people aren't capable of organizing their things well enough... let alone can they operate anything electronic effectively. how many people do you know that change a cd more than once every month? now how many of these people have cd changers carrying the same 6 discs they loaded up when the product was new?

as for the "nerd factor," i remember back when i was the only person anyone knew with an 1/8" stereo input on the face of my cd/mp3-cd capable deck. now every joe and his grandma will have them, even though most won't use them. what a waste, focus on things that make the cars easier to drive (or make them drive themselves) first

Re:wouldn't it be better if (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256104)

"these gadgets were left to the people that know how to use them well?"
Huh? are you arguing that rich people inherently understand technology better?

 

"i remember back when i was the only person anyone knew with an 1/8" stereo input on the face of my cd/mp3-cd capable deck. now every joe and his grandma will have them, even though most won't use them."
Cars with standard inputs for audio? OH THE HUMANITY!

Are you saying you've never had a friends car, or a rental, and the desire to listen to something off your mp3 player? You are arguing that you should only have access to things that by all rights, should have been standard on cars since the 90s? So you can look nerdier?

The common man deserves basic leetness.

Crash..a new meaning (1)

aiwarrior (1030802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255924)

when your car crashes to a wall it can display "fatal error" when your car displays "fatal error" it your car into a wall working as intended

This couldn't possibly fail (4, Funny)

Darth (29071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255964)

"One of the industry's more advanced systems will be Ford's Sync, which connects digital music players to the car's voice-control communications system and reads aloud cell-phone text messages and has 20 preset text-message responses... The flash memory-based system, controlled through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, is based on a Microsoft Corp. operating system for cars."

Microsoft's voice recognition did so well in a quiet room, they decided to give it a real test and see how it performs in a noisy car.

I can see it now :

driver : Check voice mail
computer : turning on radio, volume set to 10
driver : AAAAAAGH! (ears bleed, car hits telephone pole)
computer : delete select all

I can't wait for someone i know to get one so i can call him and leave a voice mail that issues commands to his car when he listens to it.

Re:This couldn't possibly fail (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256686)

I can't wait for someone i know to get one so i can call him and leave a voice mail that issues commands to his car when he listens to it.
Noise cancellation systems should be able to filter that out before it gets to the voice recognition.

Whether they'll actually use noise cancellation & how well it'll work...

Two possibilities (1)

ciaran.mchale (1018214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255972)

Tricked-Out Cars Trickling Down.

This can mean one of two things.

1. Damn, Lusty Linda's car is leaking "lubricant" again.

2. MTV plans new show: "Pimp My Ride for $50".

Telemats??? No way!!! (1)

jwiegley (520444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256064)

There's no way I'm going to let a telemat in my car!!! Oh... Wait... that's cybermats I don't want in my car.

Never mind.

"Tricked Out" BAH! (4, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256106)

That's all rice boy stuff. Where are the Holleys, the Edelbrocks, the Hooker headers, the Koni shocks, the glass packs, the high compression engines??? That's what makes a tricked out car, not decals and cell phones, and home theater(in the car??? Sheez). Just give me one that will do the driving for me.

Re:"Tricked Out" BAH! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256506)

What happened? A whole generation of people grew up with little boxes called 'econo cars'.
Cars lost there mystic, and got to a point where tweaking was not very easy.

SO now people ahve acar, and they want to make it 'their own' without the ability to fiddle with the engine.

This same thing will happen to computers. Whole generation of people that have always been around a computer, and have all there friend. So the insides become less interesting then the outside.
Look at overclocking: what does it get you today compared to what it got you 10 years ago. Not really all that much.

It's a plot against ME (2, Funny)

sonciwind (970454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256110)

Crap, now my electronics addiction is going to force me to buy a new car every year. I'm going to be so broke.

Please! No more trickle down. (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256144)

I'm still trying to wash off what was trickled down in the eighties.

"ipod" jack, aka aux input (4, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256166)

LAST time we had a 'revolution' in personal music electronics, ie CD players, car radios started having aux inputs commonly available so you didn't have to buy a CD player radio. Then when everyone finally had CD players, they stopped providing aux inputs.

THE TIME BEFORE THAT when we had a 'revolution' in personal music electronics, ie portable cassette players, car radios started having aux inputs commonly available so you didn't have to buy a cassette player radio. Then when everyone finally had cassette players, they stopped providing aux inputs.

I don't know if anyone ever had portable 8-track players commonly available enough to make an aux input useful. I *do* know that Motorola was started as a company making record players for cars [digg.com] , hence the name: Motor Victrola. I don't think those record players were particularly portable, however.

The point being, aux inputs come into vogue every time the price differential between portable electronics and car stereos exhibiting the same functionality rise above the price that it takes to reengineer them to put an input jack in the case somewhere.

GnaVa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256172)

Jesus Up The culturE of abuse poor dead last

Can I buy a car without all that junk please? (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256326)

I don't want to be charged extra to be able to plug in an iPod I don't have.

It wouldn't be so bad if it really was just a standard aux socket, but some car manufacturers are actually providing ipod-specific docking sockets which are useless if you happen to have any other player.

Heck with useless gadgets. How about... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256346)

Gadgets and other gimmicks are fine, but how about something real, like what Renault did a while back... have four little wheels which when the car was stopped could move the car sideways. This beats the computer based parallel parking hands down. All you did was just stop, park, flip a switch to have the small wheels take the vehicle's weight and move it left or right and slide in the parking place.

Or, how about money on R&D so hybrid technology isn't just in small, sluggish vehicles which become mobile tombs if a standard size SUV hits them?

Or, perhaps substantial research on engine design. Ceramic engines which can run at hotter temperatures for better efficiency?

There is a lot more that can be done with cars than just adding a little bit of slant to the headlights, add 5-10 horsepower to the engine rating.

The electronics I really want (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256400)

I want auto manufactures to include a device to actually read the information stored in the Engine Management computer and allow you to download it an analyze it on your home computer. I mean it really sucks that all cars contain an OBD-II connector but don't come with a way to use it. Why should I have to spend almost $200 for a device like this when it could just be included with the car and almost no cost to the manufacturer?

Re:The electronics I really want (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256428)

I forgot to add that I want to be able to reset the engine warning light whenever I want to.

No thanks. (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256434)

Cars already have too many electronic systems that fail easily, now they want to pile in more shit?

No thanks.

What car makers are making things sane? I.E. DIN car stereo mounts instead of this integrated crap that GM, Ford, and Toyota are pulling?

I have a Pontiac car right now that if you press the power window up on the drivers side and the passenger side at the same time it resets the WHOLE car's computer system except for the engine management. Headlights go off, dashboard resets, etc... that is incredibly silly that the power windows are in any way attached to the system that turns the headlights on.

No thanks, I want a car that has electronics with either complete seperation or 5 nines of reliability. WE know that the car makers cant make reliability, so hopefully someone wil continue to make cars without all the crap.

Automotive Open System Architecture (1)

conorlime (1070612) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256550)

The automotive industry could be the next big battleground for operating systems and software in general.

The Autosar [autosar.org] project, which is made up of automotive manufacturers such as BMW, DaimlerChrysler and Ford as well as all sorts of electronics manufacturers.

Their goal is : "The primary goal of the AUTOSAR partnership is the standardization of basic system functions and functional interfaces, the ability to integrate and transfer functions and to substantially improve software updates and upgrades over the vehicle lifetime."

Microsoft doesn't appear to be a member - anyone know why Ford is subjecting their drivers to an MS operating system? Anyone know

True, almost true (2, Funny)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256560)

While looking for a car for my parents recently, we wanted the Bluetooth.

"Fully loaded" Nissan Versa was a very strong contender — it can memorize four different cellphones, announce calls coming on any of them, and wire the call through the car's audio — at the touch of a button on the steering wheel. We ended up with Honda Fit, because it was a whole foot shorter (parking space is very limited), but it was a hard choice, because Honda still does not offer the Bluetooth integration.

We are looking for an after-market solution now, but those are not as nice as the factory/dealer-installed one would've been.

(Versa also comes with CVT [wikipedia.org] , so Honda would've lost for sure, if it weren't for their length.)

Re:True, almost true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256698)

I just bought this and it provides all the features you mentioned (except buttons on the steering wheel)--

Check this one out:

http://www.amazon.com/Motorola-HF850-Deluxe-Blueto oth-Car/dp/B0009835UA [amazon.com]

No! (1)

daybot (911557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256710)

Sorry that's absolutely ridiculous. Text messaging by voice etc - NO! Just drive the rear wheels and add airbags. Done.
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