As well intentioned as it might be, “Hang up and drive” is not, by itself, a solution to the problem of distracted driving, and it remains to be seen whether or not legislation will have a significant impact. It looks like smart phones are here to stay, and while they are by no means the only source of driver distraction, managing their use inside moving vehicles can reduce the likelihood of crashes.
Delphi has developed a Linux-based platform for in-vehicle smart phone connectivity and says that solutions based on the platform have potential for mitigating driver distraction. Using a cell phone inside a vehicle has become rather commonplace, thanks to Bluetooth, but Delphi’s system is capable of controlling smart phone applications. The ability to do so is likely to become increasingly important for selling cars to people enamored of their smart phones.
In Delphi’s system, when a driver or passenger enters the vehicle and activates his/her phone, the icons on the phone are displayed in color on a dashboard touch-screen that resembles an iPad. All applications pre-approved for vehicle use are available when the vehicle is parked, but in drive mode the screen switches to monochrome and displays a just handful of apps appropriate for use while driving.
Delphi claims 70-something years of experience designing human-machine interfaces and has put a lot of thought into its design. Apps can be controlled via the touch-screen, by voice commands, or buttons on the steering wheel. Delphi has also developed a smart phone app of its own that lets users lock/unlock doors, open/close windows, and even activate a camera inside the vehicle for an extra measure of security.
There is much more – or less – to Delphi’s system than smart phone connectivity. For example, there is no slot for a CD or DVD. Delphi expects to have its technology in production for model year 2013, but which time discs will be on their way out.