A generation of car users drives around with a navigation system stuck at their windshield with arguable estethics and negative consequences for safety. Now a research project aims at creating an interface to integrate these devices. It's high time.
Driving along the road with a navigation system attached to the windscreen this view has become commonplace on Europe's highways. Not that it is a very stylish and esthetic view, but how else could these systems be used? While the designers have worked hard to improve handling of these devices, it is still not overly ergonomic to fumble around with them while en route, and under safety aspects it is terrible.
Let alone the cables leading across the dashboard to the cigar lighter receptacle. A hair-raising view. Why hasn't any of the automotive vendors had the idea of at least installing a power receptacle near the windscreen in order to facilitate the installation of a navigation system?
The answer is relatively simple: Automotive OEMs don't want mobile navigation systems in their cars. They want to sell their own integrated (and overpriced) systems. Ok, there are a few exceptions. Renault for instance offers its cars with a navigation system from Tom-Tom at a price that at least comes near to the street prices for the usual aftermarket ware, albeit the offer is only half-hearted: Wireless integration here still is not standard; users still have to fumble around in the touchscreen or a remote control. A remote control in a car, my goodness!
There is hope, though. A research project dubbed AKTIV aims at seamlessly integrating mobile navigation systems into the car.
In the past, many engineers have contemplated over possible technologies to connect these devices in some way scratching their heads over standard form factors, standard connectors and the like. Now they have come to the obvious solution: The interface of choice is Bluetooth, and with some additional protocols it should be possible to transfer navigation information and audio output to the displays and loudspeakers already integrated in most cars. Also, voice control for the navigation system (safely resting in the glove compartment) will be done via car-integrated microphones. No driver will need to endanger him/herself and other traffic participants anymore since he/her is distracted by handling the system. Finally!
The only unknown factor is the price for such an integration infrastructure the OEMs will put onto the bill once the research project has been completed. Let's hope it will remain at an affordable level for the sake of safety.