Denso Jumping Into Sync Wars
Automotive News [sub] reports that supplier giant Denso, which is 23 percent owned by Toyota, will launch a competitor to Ford’s Sync system. The system, named Blue Harmony, will provide music, directions, e-mail, Internet radio, news headlines and other driver distractions through a touchscreen on the center of the instrument panel, according to Denso sources. The system will use Denso apps to bring Pandora internet radio, Facebook, Flickr and other web-based services to the Blue Harmony platform.
According to AN [sub]:
Unlike some voice-activated infotainment systems on the market, BlueHarmony does not require specific voice prompts to, for example, play a particular song over the vehicle’s sound system.
What this means exactly isn’t clear, but apparently the system allows users to create a new station on the customizable Pandora system simply by saying, “I want to make a new Pandora station.” Another confusing point: whether the system is based on Microsoft’s platform, which underpins Blue Harmony’s established competitor from Ford.
Denso hasn’t announced which OEMs will feature the Blue Harmony system when it goes into production in 2011, but Toyota is a safe guess. Ford has said that Sync-equipped vehicles move off the lots faster, and thanks to Kia’s recent decision to jump into the fray, the voice-activated media system is starting to look like part of the price of competition for value brands in the US market. At least until Ray LaHood realizes that they don’t actually reduce the dangers of distracted driving and bans them.
All of these systems should be made illegal to have...or only function when the vehicle is in park with the parking brake set (not navigation). SYNC is encouraging people to talk and drive...which is very careless and disgusting on Ford's part. Being in a telephone conversation while driving is extremely unsafe...and people cannot do it. They cannot handle talking and driving. Ford may just as well put a keg of beer in the trunk and provide all of the provisions necessary to allow people to drink that keg while driving...while talking on the phone.
I rarely use a cell phone and drive though I contend hands free is safe than talking to a live person in the car because the natural inclination is to look at the person your talking to.
Haha, good one, Telegraph. - Onstar operator, how can I help you, Mr. Jones? - I need directions to the nearest hospital immediately, my wife is going into labor! - I'm sorry sir, please pull over to the side of the road, put the vehicle in Park, and we can continue this conversation.
Talking to a person on a phone is much more distracting (hands-free or not) than a person in the car, whose hand gestures and facial expressions communicate subtle meanings, lowering the "load" on the brain - you only need occasional glances to fill in the gaps. Also, the passenger has a stake in presenting the driver with demanding and stressful communications, a phone caller has no such limitations. I usually leave my phone off, or use it for low-stress things like ordering a pizza on the way home.