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The Digital Car Journal

A weblog about computers in cars
by Will Fitzgerald
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URL for this day Thursday, June 28, 2001

We're breaking radio silence here to note that New York State has become the first state to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. AP's report. Reuters report. CNN report. Wired News (look for quotes from me in this).

We now return to radio silence until July 5th. Probably.

URL for this day Monday, June 18, 2001

The Digital Car Journal is on vacation--we'll return after July 4th. Meanwhile, peruse the archived journals.

Well, one last note, anyway: Volkswagen's Internet ready car.

URL for this day Friday, June 15, 2001

OnStar system tells on its owner:

A Merced, California, man took his fully equipped 2001 SUV out onto some nearby country roads, navigating swiftly and confidently with the optional OnStar Global Positioning System. When he got into an accident, he decided to run for it. But the guidance system had already notified OnStar headquarters of the accident, specifying where it had happened and giving a complete description of his vehicle to the California Highway Patrol.

(Computer Risks Digest is a useful compendium of safety and privacy risks due to computers. Search for articles on 'telematics' in the Digest, courtesy of Google.com)

URL for this day Thursday, June 14, 2001

Great anti-cell phone picture.

Michigan considering anti-cell phone legislation:

Michigan is one of 40 states considering such regulations, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
So is New York.

See list of 2001 pending legislation from the NCSL website (other transportation).

URL for this day Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Voice technology in cars--a Canadian perspective.

Forbes.com special report on telematics, including:

 --  Telematics: A Great Leap Nowhere
Automakers say people will want to turn their cars into entertainment centers and mobile offices. I disagree.

 --  Driving In Real Time
It was inevitable that car companies would add wireless systems into vehicles. A primer on telematics.

URL for this day Monday, June 11, 2001

I was asked:

On the radio this morning, I heard that a third of emergency calls are made from cell phones nowadays, and that the government is about to mandate that cell systems have better ways of tracking people. Does this decrease the need for smart gps/phone systems in cars?

What do you think? Let me know. ]

Reasonable essay worrying about business models for telematics companies, by Jason Thibeault.

Do standards for telematics help or hurt? (The answer is 'yes'.)

Telematics domain names and meat thermometers for sale--both from MyCarTalk.com.

URL for this day Friday, June 08, 2001

Take your hands off my cell phone. Commentary from Adam D. Thierer of the libertarian Cato Institute. Free Market Good! Regulation Bad! Free Market Good! Regulation Bad!

URL for this day Thursday, June 7, 2001

US 3G wireless in lead? So says this newletter from Forbes/Andrew Seybold's Wireless Outlook.

Fonix's speech recognition and text to speech now running on Motorola's PowerPC 823e-based mobileGT architecture.

GM shareholders defeats proposal to make public data on driver distraction accidents due to use of OnStar.

URL for this day Wednesday, June 6, 2001

This both amazes me and scares me a bit, too: voice controlled cars for people with disabilities.

In this case, the driver has no use of his or her arms. The steering is done with the left foot, the accelerator and the brake are activated with the right foot. All the electric functions such as turn signals, wiper, horn, lights,... are voice-controlled.

(The Katalavox system is also used to control microsurgery!)

Pity Heat Vision and Jack never made it to the air:

Created by Ben Stiller, it featured Jack Black as Jack Austin, a renegade, super-intelligent astronaut accompanied by his equally cerebral talking motorcycle, Heat Vision, voiced by Bottle Rocketís Owen Wilson. Jack and his chatty bike crisscross the empty plains, solving paranormal capers while trying to steer clear of a band of evil NASA operatives headed by the character actor Ron Silver, who plays Ö himself.

URL for this day Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Gannett News reports on the ongoing debate on cell phone use while driving. I particularly liked this analogy to smokers:

If you like to chat on the cell phone while driving you know how smokers felt years ago when lighting up started attracting disapproving glances and then prohibitive laws.

URL for this day Monday, June 4, 2001

The Federal Highway Administration published a solicitation (DTFH61-01-X-00079) for advanced 511 services:

The objective of this model deployment is to develop a regional, multi-modal traveler information system that utilizes the recently established 511 telephone number to deliver information to travelers. The system envisioned is one which will facilitate coordination of partners across agency and jurisdictional boundaries to pool resources relating to system performance and dissemination of this information to travelers through a variety of media including a modified telephone service or a newly established 511 service. The purpose of this model deployment is to showcase new and emerging technologies that enable information to be gathered from many sources with ease and to be disseminated to travelers through voice communication.

Then, they promptly retracted it, stating they will revised and republish within 30 days.

Still, it looks interesting.

URL for this day Friday, June 1, 2001

Potentially fatal flaw in OnStar's TeleAid service? Infoworld reports.

Making telematics more portable:

Relying too heavily on embedded telematics and not allowing consumers to connect personal devices to those in-vehicle systems ... causes difficulties because updating short-lived telematics technology is difficult, consumers may be paying for services they already can access on their cell phones [and] an in-vehicle phone adds an extra phone number for users to manage.

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