Simple, instant, convenient, safe… This is what we want to get from technologies, especially ones we use when driving a car. But do they meet our expectations?
In the US alone, over 5 million people get into car accidents every year because of using their phones, smartwatches and other gadgets. Almost 100,000 are killed because of it. That is almost three hundred people every day! More than half of them are in the 15-44 age group.
The harsh truth is that the vast majority of these losses could be prevented. An ever-growing factor that contributes to the tally is – no surprise here – distracted driving: texting, Snapchats, Facebook, taking notes, WAZEing, whatever switches your attention off the road to your phone screen.
Not being a saint in this regard, I want to share my personal experience…
I few weeks ago, I was driving home when I received a text message from my son. Trying to be tech-savvy, I use some “novelty” gadgets that supposedly help us. In this case I had my smartwatch notifying me of the message. That’s handy, as it only takes a couple of seconds to twist the wrist and read the message.
Now, two seconds of distraction is not critical, yet it was what happened next is what almost killed me: the reply. The reply is what changes my attitude about using smartwatches behind the wheel of a car.
I said, “Ok, Google”, no response. I tried it again with the same luck. No recognition. Was there too much road noise in the car? Or the watch too far away? Android Wear is too raw a technology? – on this I opined before! But really, whatever the reason, the recognition was poor and the watch wouldn’t activate.
Still, I needed to reply. The itching feeling to reach for the phone and send back a reply. So I had to use the manual method.
Seems easy – twist the wrist towards your face to activate the watch, tap the message icon, swipe it up to open the message and tap the screen to activate voice feature and then finally – speak. Simple? Not really. Safer? Compared to typing on the phone – maybe. Either way, I went through all these manipulations, and this time it worked well (hooray!):
Although the recognition was 100% on the second trying, it almost cost me a car.
I was driving around a corner and got so distracted by answering, that only quick reflexes allowed me to keep my car off someone’s lawn. Good thing too that I was going slow. And good thing I wasn’t in a crowded place, and most importantly that I reacted quickly.
These types of situations cause accidents every day, all around the world – just somebody really wanting to reply right away.
Life is the best teacher. This near-miss made me think of developing a new solution that would help me be safer on the road. A few days later an SMS-sender was integrated into MYLE. This feature requires no other effort but tapping the MYLE device and saying your message.
Just think of the simplicity – and safety – of such solution. Tap and say “SMS Anton, buy milk and eggs”. The spoken message is textualized, analyzed, contextualized and sent automatically. All without taking your hands off the steering and eyes off the road, and with your phone staying in your pocket. To those thinking it is magic I say – it is just a technology! And this would be the technology that fits my brief to a “tee”! Simplicity of a wearable combined with convenience of voice control, and multiplied by the power of cloud software analytics. Well, actually, it really could be magic…
Sometimes we must answer messages, WAZE, add an event in calendar or a new item in your shopping list. So, why not do that safely, with zero distraction.