A report in the electronics engineers’ trade magazine, IEEE Spectrum adds weight to predictions that cars are set to become the consumer electronics industry’s “fourth screen” – a place where consumers can be opened up to a whole new range of in-car apps and online services.

The potential for this to happen had previously been predicted at a London technology conference in late 2010, and the Spectrum report – Smarter Cars – seems to reinforce the idea.

using laptop in carAs stated in the article: “Car companies have teamed up with makers of smartphone software to integrate a spectacular array of apps designed for handsets with cars’ digital dashboards, center consoles and speaker systems.”

These “spectacular” apps will build on the console screens that have become familiar for satnav applications. For example, Ford’s all-electric Focus collects all the information you could want about the state of your car’s batteries and allows it to be read via iPhone, Android or BlackBerry devices.

That screen-based technology should target this new sector should not come as a surprise – it is all part of the industry’s constant search for new markets.

While some articles concern themselves with the viability of this push during a recession, the proposals raise numerous issues relating to the dangers of driver distraction. More functionality and interactivity with dash mounted screens present visual, cognitive and physical distraction to drivers and this creates safety issues for the driver and other road users.

using laptop in carThis also presents issues for employers whose staff may be exposed to increased levels of in-car technology. Employers need to implement policies relating to use of technology when driving and must always be aware of any potential liability they could be exposed to – as the vehicle manufacturers and technology vendors seem determined to introduce more of these ‘features’.

Blank-IT is designed to reduce distraction caused by in-car computers, whilst still allowing access to specifed (and legally allowable) programs. It is designed to comply with distracted driving legislation and OH&S guidelines, and is suitable for all types of work environments. Blank-IT is easily installed and doesn’t rely on 3rd party input such as GPS.

Find out more at: www.Blank-it.com – or contact us on 08 9486 7122 (if calling from outside Australia: +61 8 9486 7122).