Ford Motor Company created a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) yesterday, when they revealed new Web-connected dashboard technologies that include OpenBeak, a mobile Twitter application formerly known as TwitterBerry. Yes, that’s right, buy a FORD vehicle and start Tweeting.
This app will be a part of the SYNC platform being integrated into select models; drivers will be able to use voice commands to have Tweets read out loud. Ford is hoping outside developers will embrace the SYNC platform and create new apps for SYNC, much in the same way developers now create apps for iPhone, Drone and other smart phones. Ford wants consumers to have the same kind of co-dependent relationship with their Ford vehicles empowered with SYNC, that they already have with their Smartphones.
Ok. The idea is HOT. Sexy. It reeks of Knight Rider (shout out to David Hasselhoff), the interactive smart car that anticipates your every mood and whim. We all knew this was coming sooner or later; FORD is just the first to get there in a major way.
SO….the burning question. IS THIS TECHNOLOGY SAFE?
Ford leadership worked to preëmpt media and industry concerns over SAFETY. Ford CEO Alan Mulally stressed in his CES keynote address;
“that FORD believes voice commands and other SYNC controls would make using in-car entertainment and communication applications safer and less distracting than on cell phones”.
In other words…..”Our system(SYNC) is safer than the old way (Smartphone)”. Hey Mulally, you did not answer the question. IS IT SAFE?
Ford, a company whose brand is built on a foundation of quality and safety is playing a little loosey goosey with consumer safety. Our business is safety here at ERGOLAB. Our team of Ergonomists and Occupational Safety & Health Engineers works daily to make the workplace SAFER.
The data on introducing SECONDARY TASKS while driving, A PRIMARY TASK, exists in abundance. Studies from every major lab and think tank reinforce one point; anytime a SECONDARY task is introduced into the driving environment, the PRIMARY TASK is affected and safety is compromised. It does not matter if the secondary task is using a handheld phone, texting, talking with passengers or putting on make-up (you know who you are) – a SECONDARY TASK impacts our skills at the PRIMARY TASK.
I have looked into my crystal ball this morning; I see a class action lawsuit in Ford’s future. Count on it.
So. Will I buy a vehicle BECAUSE of this technology?
MAYBE. Probably not the Ford offering – never been a fan – but you can expect other manufacturers to follow suite. Knowing the risks; I might consider technology like this in the future.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you on your way to buy a new FORD?
Technology innovations march on; how comfortable are you with the direction?