Find driving overbearingly boring? Well, what if you could surf the web, check sports scores, and talk to your BFF while behind the wheel? More and more new cars are coming equipped with systems that make these things possible, and it appears Microsoft is getting ready to help advance in-car communications technology.
In a recent want ad placed on its main web site, Microsoft announces that it’s looking for someone who can help bring “the full power of the Microsoft ecosystem including Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Live, Bing, [and] Azure” to street vehicles.
According to the ad, the “combination of rich local sensing, user identification, cloud access, and data mining will transform tomorrow’s cars from passive objects into intelligent assistants for both the driver and their passengers.”
What does all that technical mumbo jumbo mean? Well, let’s start by looking at what those systems can do.
Kinect is Microsoft’s hands-free gaming peripheral. Introducing it to automobiles means allowing drivers to see around the car and to interact with it via motion control movements and gestures.
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s upcoming PC operating system, while Windows Live is the company’s instant messaging platform. Their introduction to cars could allow drivers to interact with their friends, family and co-workers through IM and email. It could also mean accessing media files, like video, music, etc.
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine and Azure its new cloud computing platform. Together, these technologies could help drivers and passengers surf the web while in a vehicle. Drivers could keep up to date with stock news and sports scores by using voice-activated or hand gesture controls.
These are fascinating technologies, but do raise concerns about driver safety. On one hand, all these features could easily distract drivers from the road ahead. However, on the other hand they could also help make drivers more aware of their environment and their vehicle’s health.
Microsoft certainly takes the latter perspective, noting in its ad that such systems “will learn [driver] habits, and offer personalized contextual information and driving assists to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible.”