When we talk about the evolution of cars, commonly we like to think of mechanical improvements – the assembly line Ford used to make the first affordable cars, the standardization of six and eight cylinder motors, direct fuel injection to replace carburetors, the creation of anti-lock brakes, and so on – but the innovations of today are happening inside the cabin with your Infotainment system.
But what is an “infotainment system?”
The word infotainment is a portmanteau of “Information” and “Entertainment.” The term was recently coined because of the growing complexity of our dashboards. Gone are the days where all you have are an AM/FM radio and some A/C controls – today, our cars provide so much more. These systems include things like XM radio, Pandora, maps, and the like – even phone companies are making software for these systems, most notably Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The thing these systems all share in common is a nice touchscreen to encompass it all. They can be as small as 5”, or as big as 15”, as in case of the Tesla Model 3. Sure, it doesn’t have to be a big screen to be “infotainment,” but the term is primarily used to describe these systems.
So why is today’s biggest innovations happening there?
Two reasons – the potential of autonomous cars, and the need to keep driver’s hard’s off their phones.
Autonomous cars, though a long way away, are going to interact differently to their “driver” than they do now. When the age of cars with no steering wheel or pedals emerges, we’ll still need to communicate with our vehicles and with other drivers – for example, you still need to know where you’re going, if the engine needs service, etc. With the need of paying attention to the road eliminated, you’ll have more time to interact with a screen.
While that may seem unsafe, don’t worry. We’re at least two to five decades away from cars being that autonomous – but this is the direction car companies expect buyers to lean towards, so we’re seeing the early stages now.
The second reason – and probably the most prominent – is keeping cell phones out of driver’s hands. Texting and driving may be illegal in many states, including North Carolina, but there’s still a serious issue. According to DMV.org, 24% of all accidents in 2014 were caused by texting and driving.
In order to keep people away from their phones, cars are beginning to encompass their abilities into their infotainment systems – some cars allow for texting via voice – you say what you want to text to the car, and it types and sends it for you so you don’t have to pull out your phone. Of course, bluetooth calling is still a huge feature.
The biggest improvements come from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – these programs make your car’s system use the phone’s OS – allowing for things like Apple Maps, Spotify, and phone calling to be on the touchscreen or hands free, instead of on your phone itself – keeping your eyes on the road.
These features are changing and growing everyday – it’s likely we didn’t cover everything. If you have any questions, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Facebook.