Tech Talk

Your Car Knows (It) All

My husband and I used to install programmable engine management systems (EMS). These computers allow you to make adjustments to the engine’s factory settings and improve your car’s performance (horsepower). Fast-forward to 2016 and we have the Google Self-Driving Car project, Tesla Autopilot and Wi-Fi available as options in cars. It feels as if your car knows (it) all, and tells you so, too.

If you bought a car in the last year, the standard options available are amazing, along with being useful. Cars with Bluetooth connectivity for making phone calls while you drive is expected. Back-up alerts are common, but many models offer backup display instead of the alert (beep). My favorite feature is Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM). It uses radar technology to detect vehicles approaching from behind and in the adjacent lane. This is great for keeping us safe, but I worry it is making me reliant on the car to tell me how to drive and could replace my own focus on driving.

What are the newest technologies out there to change our driving experience? Volvo is letting new owners control car functions with a Microsoft Band 2, and Ford owners control and monitor their vehicle with SYNC Connect. Headlight technology continues to improve, and some cars are equipped to switch the high beams off and on automatically. For those of us who reference the owner’s manual only when there’s a problem, Hyundai is leading the pack by offering an augmented reality owner’s manual: you pull the Virtual Guide up on your phone, point it at the part in question and detailed information is provided to you.

These technology advances in our cars are intended to make the road a safer place and your trip an enjoyable one. Eventually we will live in a world where the automobile is your chauffeur and manually driving your car to work will be a rarity. I will continue to enjoy my stick shift and stay in control of my car—old school with style.

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Sheila Burkett is an information technology expert and co-founder of Spry Digital, an interactive design agency that delivers smart digital solutions. Catch her weekly Spry Hive at sprydigital.com/blog.

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