If you could talk or text on the phone without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road, would that still be distracted driving? Not according to a number of start-up technology companies that are working on ways to do just that.
The New York Times describes a promotional video put on YouTube by one of those developers. A man is driving on a Los Angeles street when his cellphone rings. A floating image appears in the driver’s field of vision, telling him that his mother is calling. With a wave of his hand, the man answers the call and chats with his mom.
The company behind the commercial is working on a system that uses wireless technology to project information from the user’s phone onto the space above the vehicle’s dashboard. Text messages, maps, caller ID and social media updates will all be visible.
The idea is that these floating images will make multitasking behind the wheel safer than it is currently. But will it really? Safety advocates say that splitting your attention in any way while driving is dangerous.
But the start-ups, along with giants like Qualcomm, contend that it is impossible to educate drivers not to use their phones. They believe that superimposing the data over the road will reduce the impact of distracted driving. If the companies can make a few bucks easing peoples’ guilt about driving distracted, so much the better.
The company behind the YouTube commercial starts shipping its device later this year, so it appears the future of cellphone use while driving is nearly here. Whether it will improve traffic safety as advertised remains to be seen.