A purist driver's car is all about the feedback it provides: what the front wheels are doing through the steering wheel, how the gears are meshing through the shift lever, how the brakes are gripping through the middle pedal, how much traction you have through the seat.... Generally electronic intervention (in the form of the latest drive-by-wire systems) only serve to numb that feedback, but here's a technology that could actually use vibrations to tell us more without having to take our eyes o
Vehicles with manual transmissions have been equipped with shift indicators (illuminated or audible) for decades. While some are used to improve performance, most are designed to encourage more fuel-efficient driving. Regardless of the original objective, nearly all drivers become desensitized or learn to ignore the illuminated lights and arrows after just a few short hours behind the wheel.
The Touchskin interface has beeen on display since last October; now it's at a stage where Magna is shopping it to automakers. Although Magna is the marquee name, the various components that comprise Touchskin are produced by nine companies: Plastic Electronics, Engel Mould Technologies, Schöfer, Magna Exteriors and Interiors, Hueck, Niebling, Votteler, Hennecke Polyurethane and formquadrat.
Any device or system that draws a driver's attention away from the road is inherently distracting, but some navigation systems are better than others. Now, AT&T Labs is said to be hard at work developing a steering wheel with haptic feedback that may allow more drivers to keep their eyes off of the center console screen. According to MIT's Technology Review, the system uses 20 small actuators to to create a pattern of vibrations in the wheel. When the wheel buzzes clockwise, the driver is me