BMW and Big Brother: Together Again

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
bmw and big brother together again

I like all these automotive technologies that make it possible for the government to spy on you: black box accident data recorders, OnStar vehicle monitoring (complete with built-in microphone and remote "slow down"), insurance-related transponders, etc. I like the assurances the companies provide that they will never share the information with anyone, ever, unless the government twists their arm. And I like not having any of it in my vehicle (when possible). BMW joins the no-thanks parade with a new feature in its next gen 7-Series. The gizmo's camera reads speed limit signs, compares GPS-stored speed limit data to your current speed, and then flashes the fact that you're speeding on the heads-up display. "The new BMW Speed Limit Display will significantly reduce the risk of drivers exceeding the speed limit by mistake,” BMW Group Australia Marketing General Manager Tom Noble tells WardsAuto. "The technology is an information system only and does not intervene in the control or speed of the vehicle in any way, the auto maker says." Whew!

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
4 of 27 comments
  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Aug 19, 2008

    What's really sad and pathetic: All these tech gizmos (cellular / GPS / Cameras) could really do some good when it comes to nailing really dangerous / incompetent drivers. But their only focus is speed. Nothing else matters... The poor slob driving 10mph over on an empty highway at 7am for a Saturday OT shift has a 100x better chance of getting ticketed than the rush-drive, cell chatting, cut-off artist. Is there a reason no aspiring politician can say the above? Or are they all that stupid?

  • Qwerty Qwerty on Aug 19, 2008

    For a site that prides itself on removing [s]criticism[/s] flames, there sure is a free hand given to political B.S., which has detroyed just as many sites as real flaming.

  • Edgett Edgett on Aug 19, 2008

    At the risk of starting a flame war by returning to the original subject (the over-gadgetization of new cars), I'm wondering where it ends. I use Microsoft Word every day and would like to strip about 80% of the crap out of it so that it was truly useful, but Bill & Company aren't having any. I have a cellphone that will do voice dialing (never used it) and exercise at least 20 different features I will never use, simply because some programmer thought "this is cool!". The Apple iPhone is however proof that there are those folks out there who want to be totally geeked out by the products they buy. Maybe they are the "early adopters" who are driving these digital auto "features" which many of us do not want. Having said this, there are some smart things which have been added: Once you have electric mirrors, how nice it is that one of them can figure out you're in reverse and thus may want to see where the curb is (partly because modern cars have almost zero visibility to the right rear quarter). Once you have ABS and digital fuel injection, it seems reasonable to create a traction control system that helps the driver not do something stupid in poor traction conditions. Robert - how about a TTAC Q of the Day or Poll on which "modern" features are worthwhile? Could make for interesting reading based on the non-political responses to this thread. ...and now returning to the political B.S.

  • RFortier1796 RFortier1796 on Aug 20, 2008

    Qwerty...that would take all the fun out of it. edgett... I got my iPhone because my Razor (a first gen one no less) crapped out on me, and I had to get a new phone. My father had an iPhone, but figured a Blackberry was much more usefull for his company, so he got the blackberry, and I took the iPhone off his hands free of cost. That being said, I would have much rather just paid for a new phone. Its an amazing piece of equipment, as long as you don't need a real phone. I miss my old Nokia...