Monday, September 23, 2013

Distracted driving — the stats are alarming

I was driving to work the other day when I heard something on the radio that almost made me drop my smartphone. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced that, for the first time, deaths attributable to driver distraction outnumber those caused by impaired driving. So far this year, on roads patrolled by the OPP, distraction has led to 47 deaths, while impaired driving has led to 32.

This stat drives home the need for dramatically better head-unit integration of services that drivers would otherwise use their phones to access. This isn't anything new to QNX. We've been working with our partners to provide all the necessary elements to enable this integration through technologies such as HTML5, Qt, iPod out, MirrorLink, and Bluetooth. All these technologies can help create systems that minimize driver distraction but they represent only part of the solution. Pushing buttons on your head unit, combined with smart HMI design, does help, but it's not a panacea.

To truly help drivers keep their eyes on the road we have to minimize the time they spend looking at the infotainment display. Multi-modal HMIs built from the ground up with the assumption that high-quality speech recognition and text-to-speech are available will drastically change the way drivers interact with their infotainment systems. For instance, such HMIs could read your texts and emails aloud to you; they could even let you dictate responses at the appropriate time. But really, the possibilities are endless. And on the topic of talking to your car, we're constantly working with our partners to enrich the speech capabilities of the QNX CAR Platform. But more on that in an upcoming post.

By the way, I wasn't really using my smartphone while I was driving. That's illegal here. Not to mention incredibly dumb.

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