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New Technologies in 2012 Cars

Developments incorporate drivers' technology habits into auto design for ease and safety.

One eye on the road, the other on the speedometer, and the third trying to read the tiny print of the name of the artist currently singing on your mp3 player plugged into your car’s sound system. The times – while driving your car – are indeed a’ changing.  No more sitting back and maybe briefly daydreaming. Now be more safe and productive while multi-tasking behind the wheel.  

It is heartening to see Cadillac and Ford, two great American-made brands, competitively developing and deploying new technologies alongside European and Asian brands. The focus is on driver safety.  The added benefit is incorporating individuals’ habits from outside the car into the inside of the car.

General Motors’ Cadillac will offer in early 2012 the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) in its XTS sedan. CUE is a Linux-based computer system. A tablet computer touchscreen in the car’s dashboard combines access to navigation, media and data such as real-time traffic. All pared down to four buttons.  Swipe your finger across the eight inch LCD touchscreen. Make a selection by tapping a button. CUE responds with a vibrating pulse to your fingertip so you know your choice has been made. You can focus more on the road and away from the touchscreen. To use the jargon, it’s called haptic-feedback.  

While many would deny it, phone calls and text messages are common while driving. Just glance at the car next to you at a stop light. Nuance technology provides the capability for voice recognition commands and is being introduced across both Cadillac and Ford models.

Ford’s classic dashboard gauges are making way for an LCD screen. Ford’s SYNC and AppLink provide greater safety in using SmartPhones than before and feature real-time information specific to the vehicle such as tire pressure, distance to destination and remaining fuel.

MyKey is an intriguing use of technology with the teenage driver in mind. It combines the physical car key with computer programming to restrict aspects available to the driver. “Do not disturb” mode automatically sends incoming calls to voicemail and blocks text messages.  Radio volume set not to exceed 44 percent so the driver can hear what’s going on around them on the road as well as enjoy their music. Worried about a heavy-footed young driver? Set the top speed allowed to as high as 85 miles per hour. When does the fuel gauge’s “E” really, really mean empty?  MyKey can be set to warn when the fuel reaches around 75-miles until the car will be out of gas and coasts to a halt. All in all, I could use most of these alerts myself even as a “mature driver.”

Watch for more innovations from car companies.  For the car technophiles, visit a car dealership in the Burke - Springfield area this holiday season.

What’s on your wish list of new vehicle features?

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