Social media creeping into car experience

August 8, 2012 9:53:46 PM PDT
Social media is creeping into your car experience -- Facebook has its eye on taking a drive with you and Cadillac has decided to live up to its name and produce what it calls the Cadillac of in-car infotainment systems.

They're calling it CUE for Cadillac User Experience. In the 2013 sedan, you're just as much a user as a driver.

"You can choose a digital speed dial, or you can change that to a snippet of your navigation map view," Cadillac interaction designer Matt Highstrom said.

Those mechanical instruments are pictures on a full-color screen you can customize.

"For our technically savvy customer, we have the enhanced layout," Highstrom said.

A heads-up display tells you where to turn and a vibrating seat warns you of obstacles.

"Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, exactly, that was our primary goal in this," Highstrom said.

But if you're stopped, it works much like other handheld devices like your smartphone.

Cadillac's designers figured out most drivers were using not one, but two or more mobile devices and fiddling with them all while they drive. They wanted to change that.

"We have a hidden 1.8 liter storage bin; in there we have a lighted USB port so I can lock away my iPod, my phone, keep it safely and securely stored away in that bin," Highstrom said.

And control it with steering wheel buttons and voice commands.

Cadillac's not the first to try this, but Wired Transportation Editor Damon Lavrinc says their approach is different.

"They took the touch screen technology and really embraced it," Lavrinc said.

That's both good and bad.

"You're kind of lacking that muscle memory, where you can just reach out and touch something really quickly and based on feel know what you're changing," Lavrinc said.

This is just the beginning -- Facebook is working to integrate with Ford cars.

"We can imagine a day when you buy a new car and by logging into the car's computer with Facebook, you can have it immediately light up with music, addresses, restaurants, stores and other destinations targeted specifically for you based on your friends and your interests," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the quarterly earnings call.

So will that happen with a Cadillac-style touch screen?

"It's easily the most advanced system; whether it's the best system remains to be seen," Lavrinc said.


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