What’s New In The World of Car Audio?

It’s fascinating to think about how far and fast car radio technology has evolved. You can’t even really just call it “car radio” anymore, because it includes so much more than that.

From the start of the auto era, if anybody knew how to put a home radio into their car it was pretty much the only option. These were usually DIY and tweaked versions of home radios, home stereos, that the typical tinkerer might have come up with. Rarely, if ever, was anything actually included in the initial manufacturing build of those older automobiles any time before the 50s/60s (it is difficult to find an exact date/model car that first shipped with a radio factory installed).

In the 60s there were reel-to-reel players which quickly evolved into 8-track cartridges, which then in turn also quickly evolved into cassette tapes by the late 70s. 1985 saw the first car CD player – now 28 years ago!

After CDs arrived, it became clear that digital was the way to go and we soon saw car technology following the path of the computer system. Many of the same technologies have been used, and the trend of shrinking data down to the smallest phsyical units was very beneficial for car audio as portability was such a primary factor of consideration.

Now, who remembers what a car phone used to look like? A real, true, actual first gen car phone. The really big phones that you had to wire to your car itself. While it’s true that car audio equipment of generations past can and does look quite retro, the mobile phone technology we used to have looks absolutely prehistoric. In-car technology has progressed at a lightning rate and if you compare the components from day one against what we have today then you might not even know they performed the same way.

Today we are seeing a merging of these technologies into one unit that controls music, radio, communication, and so much more that we used to never dream about. MP3s have been a fundamental part of car audio for almost two decades. Cell phones are completely integrated thanks to Bluetooth wireless systems. And more and more we are seeing these control units incorporating features and abilities of our computers and smartphones.

The latest generation of controllers created for car travel – controllers such as Sony’s MirrorLink or the Clarion Next GATE – include all the popular apps you find everyone using today: Streaming radio, Facebook, Twitter, GPS, and the ability to add more, too. There is so much available to both driver and passenger that never used to be, and it can be right at your fingertips.

There are bright things coming for technology in the future – we see Google developing an automated car, as our information and entertainment consoles only get more and more robust. What will the next couple decades bring?. Or even just the next few years!

Task Automation Allows You to Improve Driver Training

Driver training as the development from controlled to automatic processing.

In psychological research, learning to drive a car is regarded as a typical example of a development from controlled to automatic processing by means of training. During car driving, a number of different part tasks have to be executed and integrated. Often the driver needs to switch between these part tasks. This concerns tasks such as pedal control, gear changing, lane changing, stopping the vehicle, driving off, visual scanning when approaching an intersection, looking at road signs, watching other traffic, applying rules of the road, etc.

As an example: when you learn to drive a car, you have to consciously attend to everything you are doing. Steering and control of the pedals require conscious attention. But watching other traffic, traffic lights and road signs requires conscious attention as well. Often, you press the wrong pedal, or you release the clutch too fast, resulting in stalling of the engine, or you turn the steering wheel too much, if the situation requires you to attend to a road sign or other vehicle. Talking with your passenger can be hard and dangerous, because talking requires controlled attention as well.

A task that has been practices very well becomes automatic. Automatic tasks require little or no processing capacity. Because of that, automatic tasks can be executed in parallel (simultaneously) with other tasks. For example, you can walk and eat at the same time. Automatic tasks are executed fast and efficient and hardly require any conscious attention. In contrast, controlled processes:

  • require conscious attention,
  • are executed more slowly and are consciously controlled,
  • are error-prone,
  • and can’t be performed simultaneously with other controlled tasks (multitasking not possible).

When the part tasks of car driving are not automated well enough (and still require controlled processing):

  • the driver is overloaded easily,
  • commits more errors
  • needs more time to perform a task. This may result in not being able to complete a time-limited task in time, such as approaching an intersection. Because of that learned drivers often fail to signal in time or fail to look into the appropriate direction resulting in an accident.

An essential part of good driver training consists of good and efficient automation of part tasks. That determines whether a student learns to drive well, the chance of passing the driver exam and driver safety.

Automation of skills is not optimal during traditional driver training.

During regular driver training in a learner car, all these tasks are learned but usually not automated sufficiently. The reason is that during driving in a learner car on a road, unexpected situations occur, and there’s a lot of switching between tasks. It’s difficult for the instructor to control traffic situations and events. Because of that, individual part tasks can’t be practiced extensively, and extensive practice is required in order to make the transition from controlled to automatic processing. This results in the situation, here in the Netherlands, that most student drivers need at least 40 hours of on-road training before they are fit to apply for a driver test, for which only 50% passes the first time. Still, during the driver test, it often occurs that the engine stalls because of poor clutch control, or the student fails to scan properly when approaching an intersection. This is caused by the student driver being overloaded when multiple part tasks require controlled attention simultaneously. Driver training in a learner car on public roads is not the most effective method to learn to drive. Automation of part tasks proceeds slowly this way, and it may take up to a few years after the driver has passed for the driver test before a reasonable level of automation has been established.

Poor levels of automation are probably an important cause for the relatively high accident rate during the first years of driving in young drivers. During driving, mental workload varies considerably. Taskload increases as more part tasks that require controlled processing are performed simultaneously, or when there’s more switching between controlled tasks. An unexpected situation, for example, a pedestrian crossing the street, may result in a sudden increase in workload leading to errors and increased accident risk. When part tasks are better automated, overload is less likely and the driver may respond faster and in a safer way.

A driving simulator can be particularly helpful in this respect, because it allows the learner driver to practice individual driving tasks to a more automated level.

The App That’s Selling You

I just spent a week in lovely Costa Rica. My family and I swam, sailed, snorkeled, communed with wildlife and parasailed high above the Pacific Ocean.

We didn’t see any Pokémon. That’s because, unlike much of the rest of humanity, we weren’t looking for any using the app that’s taken the world by storm: Pokémon Go.

Surprisingly, my preteen daughter didn’t object to our Pokémon-free existence. To my great satisfaction, she appears to enjoy more cerebral pursuits… mostly.

But even if she’d begged me, I’d have refused to cave in. No Pokémon Go for us. That’s because I don’t fancy turning my family into tradable data points… and neither should you.

Unfortunately, Pokémon Go is the least of our worries in this respect…

Pokémon Go: The Product Is YOU

Old-timers like me remember actually paying for software. Remember upgrading to a new version of Windows or Microsoft Office every year or so? In those days, getting complex applications for free, like those available for today’s smartphones, was unthinkable.

That’s because, up until about five years ago, the software itself was the product from which developers made their profit. It was no different from selling cars, refrigerators or any other complex manufactured product.

No more. I still pay a nominal fee every year to “subscribe” to updates of some software products, but many that I use daily come completely free.

It’s not that they’re cheap to develop – quite the opposite. Today’s software is orders of magnitude more complex and powerful than the stuff for which we used to pay hundreds of dollars.

That’s because today’s software isn’t the revenue-generating part of the business model. It’s not the main thing being sold for profit.

You are.

Beware Geeks Bearing Gifts

Over the past few years, I’ve warned repeatedly that hacking is only one part of the digital-age threat. Less obvious – and more insidious – is the process by which you are turned into a commodity to be traded for profit by the companies whose products you use.

The best-known examples are big online outfits like Google and social networks like Facebook. Both provide their user-facing services for free. Both, however, spend most of their efforts not on improving those services, but on harvesting information about you that can be sold to the highest bidder.

My favorite example is the poor fellow who searched Google for “pancreatic cancer” and started seeing online ads for funeral homes. Another is the father who received a mailer from some company with the words “DAUGHTER KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT” printed on the envelope. Some idiot had misconfigured the marketing algorithm, and the targeting criteria were being printed on thousands of mailers.

Google and Facebook (and many others) started out making money by selling microtargeted online ads to third parties like those funeral homes. But they quickly learned that they could make even more money by selling the data that advertisers use to do that microtargeting. Precise figures are hard to find, but given that marketing companies report 200% to 300% increases in revenue using such data, it’s safe to say that the big data harvesters are coining it by selling you to them.

Pokémon Go takes this one step further. It doesn’t have any adverts at all. To the user, it appears completely ad-free. But advertisers will still be paying to get at those users… in a much more dangerous way.

Boldly Going Where No App Has Gone Before

Pokémon Go has been downloaded 20 million times in the U.S. It’s just rolled out in Asia and Europe. Nintendo’s stock price has soared by more than 50% in two weeks. Pokémon Go has already overtaken Twitter in daily active users and is even closing in on Facebook.

While the app is free, users can make in-app purchases like lures to attract Pokémon to your location or “cages” to keep them in. However, the game is about to unleash one of the most potent advertising campaigns in digital history… all by selling frighteningly detailed information about its users.

For example, the app will soon offer “sponsored locations” to paying partners. Geotargeting and geofencing technology will allow advertisers to target specific buildings and match that to signals from mobile devices. Advertisers will know exactly where you are and serve ads based on your precise location – just like that infamous shopping-mall scene from Minority Report.

By paying Pokémon Go’s developers a big fee, a brand like McDonald’s (whose logo has already been spotted in Pokémon Go’s code) will be able to turn its stores into desirable locations in the Pokémon virtual universe. That will draw players to those locations, where they will be tempted to buy stuff “IRL” – in real life. Advertisers will be charged on a “cost per visit” basis, similar to the “cost per click” Google charges advertisers.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Initial reports that Pokémon Go harvests detailed Google account information, like the contents of emails, seem to have been incorrect.

But the app’s owners don’t need that stuff. They’re going for something bigger. They want to know your location at all times so they can sell that information to the highest bidder.

Justice Louis Brandeis once defined privacy as “the right to be let alone.” If that’s what you want, it’s up to you to ensure it happens.

Looking To Become An Uber Driver? Here’s Why You Should Use A PCO Rental Service

If you live in a busy city, driving a PCO registered vehicle can be a flexible and profitable career option. Uber is fast becoming superior to traditional taxi firms in terms of their affordability and convenience for customers, so now is a better time than any to embark on your professional driving career with a company you can trust.

Uber was founded in 2009 over in the States, and has since become immensely successful on a global scale. In recent years, Uber has moved with a unique ‘tap to ride’ service, available to users through a smartphone App.

Uber makes public car services efficient and cost-effective for both the driver and the customer. The company use an intelligent mapping system to find you when someone requests a taxi, depending on how close you are to the customer. Uber’s philosophy it to link a driver to their customer in less than five minutes, meaning you’ll never be out of work.

At the end of their journey, Uber bills the customer’s credit card, and then feeds the payment back to you by using a new online system. So, if you’re an existing taxi driver looking to work for Uber, you’ll be pleased to know there’ll be no more fare-dodging!

Working for Uber means you’ll be your own boss, able to work as little or as much as you like, at any time of day. And with inflated Uber fares during particularly busy periods, you’ll get paid extra for working on weekends or public holidays.

But, if you’re looking for work and want to join Uber, you’ll need to have your own PCO registered vehicle – which in the current economic climate can be costly.

Owning the right vehicle is a snag that often gets in the way of experienced drivers becoming Uber workers, as the initial outlay for a car that is fit for public services can be expensive. Perhaps you are unable to get a PCO license for your current car? Or maybe it’s a car you share with your partner or family, and you’re unable to use it when you need to work?

This is where an Uber PCO rental car service could offer just the solution you need to launch your freelance driving career.

An Uber PCO rental service will give you a beautiful, fully PCO-registered and insured vehicle of the highest quality and style. Better yet, any one of these executive hire vehicles comes at an affordable monthly price, with flexible finance options to suit your budget.

It’s best to find PCO rental services who are affiliated with Uber, as often they will offer Uber drivers better deals and rates. For example, the leading Uber PCO rental services are now offering rent-to-buy schemes as an incentive to get budding drivers on the road.

This means, not only will you be able to rent an impressive, latest vehicle from a trusted source, but one day, it will be yours – making an Uber PCO rental service a worthwhile investment. Plus, the PCO registration and insurance will be dealt with for you by experts in the industry. So all you’ll have to do is apply and get yourself out on the road.

Most Uber PCO rental services have a very simple application process, and will normally get back to you within 24 hours. If you’re interested in working for Uber, and you would like to apply for an Uber PCO rental service, you can search online for the leading companies in your area who offer the best deals and packages.