CES 2013: A different type of touch

Sharing taxis from one hotel to another is not only the polite thing to do at CES, but can result in some interesting conversations. You can gather information that is fun but trivial (for example, that vendors at the major toy trade shows can be more secretive than fashionistas), and ideas concerning trends and technologies that you might not have otherwise heard about.

For example, a vendor rep attending the Consumer Telematics Show from VisionObjects, a French company that develops handwriting recognition software such as MyScript, chatted with me about the problem of providing drivers with non-distracting information. Voice won’t do it, he told me; if there are other people in the car or the radio is playing, the effort of trying to make voice commands work can be nearly as distracting as touch.  

I had never thought about voice control in that fashion, but he has a point. I myself am very leery of drivers who feel free to adjust their directions, or try to magnify the map, while going 60mph on the highway; I figure they are accidents waiting to happen.

Apparently, there are vendors who are trying to find better ways. For example, there is a project to develop a touchpad that would sit next to the driver at elbow level (presumably, on an armrest) and enable the driver to quickly scribble short messages with a fingertip (say, "LVCC" for directions to the Las Vegas Convention Center) that would be transmitted to the car’s GPS unit -- thus enabling her to give commands without either using voice or taking her eyes off the road.

How practical this might be – especially for those of us who drive economy cars that don't offer the latest equipment – has yet to be seen. But it is an indication that developers are trying to come up with ways to integrate mobile technology into our mobile lifestyle a bit more safely.

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