A new study suggests drivers who follow GPS directions regularly do not engage their hippocampus, highly limiting the development of an internal map and making them more dependent on navigation devices. We’ve all heard accounts of London cabbies with juicy, swollen central lobes, stemming from the requisite training and memorization of city streets and landmarks. It turns out the inverse may also be true. This may be another classic case of if you don’t use it, you lose it.
The University College London discovered the hippocampus (used for direction and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (used for decision-making) both saw elevated levels of activity whenever drivers turned down unfamiliar streets or had free-choice to follow along their route. However, those making use of navigational systems produced no additional activity in those areas whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nada. (Read More…)
A windshield head-up display, or HUD, is a beautiful thing. Capable of displaying navigational guidance, vehicle speed, and other information on the lower part of the windshield and in the driver’s line of sight, HUD systems have become increasingly common on new cars since their first appearance a couple of decades ago.
More recently, a handful of aftermarket suppliers and startups have gotten on the bandwagon, offering devices that pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth to provide similar functionality, even if these devices lack the seamless integration of a factory system.
In the comments for “QOTD: Are All These Turbocharged Cars Going to Last?” there was a long discussion on whether dashboard entertainment systems were also a weak point in modern cars. Well, it’s turned out to be a weak point in my 2004 Acura TSX.
It’s a first-generation TSX with a 6-speed manual gearbox and a total hoot to drive, but the dash computer/radio has always been a problem. The high-mounted LED display failed and was fixed under a recall (the problem was a bad chip in the radio). It gave up the ghost again nine years later and the dealer threw up his hands at fixing it for free. Now the infotainment system constantly reboots rendering it unusable.
My question: Is it worth having this problem fixed on an 11-year old car?
General Motors this month filed a patent application for a navigation system that can gauge how effective it is in
frustrating guiding drivers based on their eye movements and how well those drivers follow directions.
The patent application filed Dec. 3 details a navigation system that watches “visual focus, the driver vocalizations and the driver emotions, along with vehicle system parameters from a data bus … to evaluate driver satisfaction with navigation guidance and determine driver behavior.”
“You missed our last turn, Aaron.”
I know, OnStar. We’re going off course.
“I don’t like how that sounds, Aaron.”
Take me to the nearest hole in the desert, OnStar. (Read More…)
Eye on Bad Design? (photo courtesy: http://www.moibbk.com/)
I’ve always had an aversion to dashboards where the main gauges are in the center of the car (Mini, Yaris, etc.). I can see why an automaker would do it if they sell internationally. Once, back when I used to listen to the Autoblog podcast, one of the hosts said that having the gauges in the center made them faster and easier to read. No way! That just can’t be so. I think I stopped listening to the podcast right then and there.
Would you care to comment?
Happen to own a classic Porsche? Want a more elegant solution for GPS than a smartphone on your dash? Porsche Classic has the solution.
p0wnage. (photo courtesy: Facebook.com)
I’ve been accused of Automotive Hipsterism for bragging about my bare bones Ford truck instead of aspiring to expensive vehicles. It used to be different, back when top-drawer dashboards were more Malevich and less Pollock in design. Because good design embraces Less is More, while poor design over thinks the solution.
Speaking of hipster, witness the design backlash on Gillette’s Facebook page, especially the red box.
Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)
Mitsubishi’s website claims the Mirage is a “small car for a big life.” Possible: while I haven’t done a TTAC review in over a year, know that even the rare automotive sampling of a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult possesses a modicum of engineering /styling/marketing prowess. Good cars exist everywhere, which is worthy of someone’s “big life.”
And contrary to the rash of negative press, the Mirage is an honest machine worthy of a closer look.
Quick, what’s the point of having a navigation system in your car? To get where you want to be going, right? Well, IBM has another idea: maybe instead of taking you where you want to go, navigation systems should be offering to take you where a paying advertiser wants you to go. Say, right past their shop, for example. Popular Science quotes from one of IBM’s patent applications
Conventional route planning systems determine optimal routes based on different preferred conditions, including minimizing travel time or minimizing the distance traveled. By focusing on optimal route determination, the known route planning systems fail to consider non-optimal routes whose presentation to travelers may have value to other parties.
So, it’s not quite to the point of your nav system saying “I can’t let you not pass a Starbucks, Dave,” but in the future your navigation could strongly suggest that, rather than going to the farmer’s market, you stop by the supermarket that happens to pay IBM the most.
It’s a well-kept secret, which will give the willies to people who are (at least publicly) worried about intellectual property: Microsoft has one of their best R&D centers in China. Located in the silicone gulch in the north of Beijing, MSRA (Microsoft Research Asia) is working on advanced technologies, mostly in the visual area. I worked with them once, and they are NFSWing good. They just had another great idea: Why not mine the knowledge of cab drivers when it comes to proposing the best route on your in-car navigation system? (Read More…)