Microsoft and BMW recently announced that Skype for Business would be available in “Series 5” cars. For people who are permanently connected to the office (like me), this could seem like a fantastic idea, until you start to look closer at what it means for the interconnected world of the future. Sure, the ability to initiate voice chats without taking your eyes off the road could be a huge benefit to on-the-road safety. However, as the partnership between Microsoft, BMW, and other potential automakers continues to expand, where is the line drawn?
Microsoft has already hinted that we might begin to see Cortana integrated into the dashboard of BMW cars, and Volvo is already working on delivering new in-car collaboration solutions. On top of that, we’ve got Mercedes-Benz working on the creation of an “in-car” office. It sounds good in theory – but when you start bringing new features into the mix, what you end up with is a whole new range of potential distractions for modern drivers.
The Auto World is Evolving
It’s safe to say that there are some huge changes happening in the vehicle world. For instance, you can use a smart device to access your Tesla Model 3, and Elon Musk recently tweeted that Tesla will be adopting cloud-based driver profiles. This means that drivers will be able to access personal information and settings within any Tesla vehicle. That’s exciting stuff – I can’t argue with the concept of being able to create the perfect car environment based on my unique cloud profile.
However, with other automakers taking the system even further and introducing stuff like Microsoft Exchange, and Skype for Business – potential problems seem to arise. The idea is to give people on the road more access to work-related productivity features. While this could be great for those moments when you’re stuck in traffic and running late on a deadline, it also increases the temptations in the average car for a driver to look away from the road, and focus on other things instead.
Where Do We Draw the Line?
When it comes to implanting technology into cars, it’s important to think carefully about where we’re going to draw the line. Voice calls through Skype for Business could be a useful way to stop people from using their phones on the road, but what about when the rest of your collaboration suite drops into your dashboard? Are we going to be looking at HD monitors for video chat when we’re driving to work? Or trying to transfer files in between traffic lights?
While the argument can be made that drivers should know that they can only use their collaboration features in their new cars when they’re not actively driving, the temptation is still going to be there. Even with the ability to talk to Cortana and ask your virtual assistant to perform tasks for you – will your mind be totally focused on driving, if you’re using your own “in-car office”?
If someone sends a crucial file or update directly to your dashboard, are you going to be able to wait until you’ve finished driving to check it out? While many smart drivers will know that safety comes first, there’s bound to be a few people on the road who can convince themselves it’s worth taking the risk.