Monday, September 19, 2016

Detroit should be selling cars, not computers

Wall St Journal had a long article on the miraculous electronical features coming in new cars.  New cars might allow you to lock or unlock them with your phone.  Or schedule outrageously expensive service visits to your dealer, wave-your-hands controls to replace touch screens, rear view TV, and automatic remote controlled valet parking controlled by your phone, automatic driver wake up systems, and over-the-air software patches. 
   I don't want my new car to have any of this stuff.  If the car will unlock for my cell phone, it will unlock for car thief cell phones.  I never take my car to the dealer for service, the cost is outrageous.  I want real physical controls, that I can feel in the dark, not touchy feely screens or wave your hand in the air and something happens controls.   Rear view mirrors work all the time, TV camera's fail, especially after a fender bender.  I wouldn't dare allow a microprocessor to park my car, one screwup and I have a repair bill and a lawsuit. 
   Electronics, be they  car borne, pocketable, smart phone, Ipad, smartwatch, or plain old laptop, are only useful after a lot of loading of contact info, phone books, music,  email, programs, photographs, software, and whatever.  Once I have spent the time to load all this stuff into the electronic gizmo, I want to take it with me, into the client's office, into my office, into my home, to the beach, anywhere.  And electronic gizmos go obsolete faster than cars do.  Might want to get the latest gizmo without buying an entire new car.  And,  I'm not going to spend the time to load up a built-into-the-car system that I cannot take with me.
   The carmakers ought to come up with an industry wide electronic interface that would give a third party (Apple say) electronic gizmo access to the car speakers, antennas, and DC power.  And a stowage spot, a shelf under the dash, or a slot in the front seat console, or maybe a holder on the ceiling, up front, over the rear view mirror. 
   Last time I was on the road with youngest son and his Ipad,  interface with the car speakers was flaky.  All we had was a RF modulator that put the Ipad audio into the FM band, where the car FM radio picked it up and played it.  Had to keep fiddling with the RF modulator as we drove.  Ipad volume control was opaque, and song selection was worse. 

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