More or less distraction with windshield texting?


(Navdy photo)

With much of America at the beach or at the lake or otherwise vacationing this week, the Twittersphere and bloggers have little to yammer about, so today they’ve settled into a debate about Navdy.

Navdy is a device that will project virtually everything you now get on your mobile device onto the windshield of your car. Think of the windshield becoming a virtual movie screen that shows navigational data from your GPS unit, incoming phone calls, text messages and more. It responds to voice commands and gestures.

Navdy is reported to have racked up $1 million in pre-orders by discounting the device, which the San Francisco-based company later intends to market for $500. Connect it to your iPhone or Android and you’ll never have to reach for them again while you are driving. As Navdy’s marketing puts it,  “No more looking down to fumble with knobs, buttons or touch screens.”

The company calls its product “The future of driving.”

While Navdy advertises itself as an antidote to distracted driving, the Internet was roiling Monday with voices challenging that. Streetsblog called it a “Scary new app.”  James Sinclair’s blog at Stop and Move elaborates on those fears:

“When we’re focused on reading text, the world in the background may technically continue to be perfectly clear (as our eyes aren’t limited in focusing like cameras are), but that doesn’t mean our brain is processing it. In reality, it’s just as blurred because we’ve stopped paying attention to everything but the text. Go ahead, look at the image above and read the message — that’s all you really see.”

“Navdy may be safer than having a phone in your lap and looking down at it, but it doesn’t mean it’s a huge improvement. In fact, by making the distractions even more accessible, it might just mean more dangerous results. When your phone vibrates, you can choose to ignore it. When your new message pops into your windshield, showing that restraint becomes a little more difficult.”

The projected text message Navdy uses in its advertising is rather benign: Adam texts, “Want to meet for coffee?” Dr. Gridlock has been told, however, that not all text messaging is quite so tame. While pondering a cup of coffee, the driver might notice that bicyclist to the right and the San Francisco trolley car up ahead. But what if the text was something more risque, like, say, “I want to tickle your ear with a feather boa?”  No distraction there?

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local
Next Story
Paul Duggan · August 18