Life In The Distraction Lane: Volvo To Implement Skype In 90-Series
As if life isn’t distracting enough and as if there aren’t enough features in today’s cars that are also distractors, Volvo has just announced that it is adding, perhaps, one of today’s biggest distractors around, Skype, to its 90-Series vehicles.
The automaker is adding Skype for Business. It is used primarily for conference calls. The communications app is part of the display on Sensus touchscreens and will appear in Volvo S90 sedans, V90 wagons and XC90 crossovers.
Interesting To The Point Of Distracting
Here's where the whole plan gets more interesting – or distracting, depending on your point of view. According to Volvo, the touchscreen display will show your schedule of upcoming meetings and allow you to connect with a tap, no mind-numbing codes needed.
Volve seems to think that the simplified access will keep you safe because you have more opportunity to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. And, we hate to be killjoys, but, won’t driver’s be taking their eyes off the road to read the schedules and then find the right button to tap? So, how is this feature not just another distraction of the type the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been warning of for months? Honestly, Volvo’s system is the classic definition of distracted driving.
Of particular interest in this piece is the fact that Volvo and Microsoft have worked together in the past. And, now that Microsoft owns Skype, there is speculation that Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant may be used to do what they see as improving the driving experience.
It is entirely possible that some of Cortana’s contextual insights might be integrated so that you may be told your destination and given a route to get there without asking? Or, it could involve nagging updates to your course with each outburst being a better path. This could be more than a little distracting.
Is It Just A Marketing Gimmick?
To say that this might not be distracting ignoring the fact that it is a distraction in the first place. So other than as a marketing gimmick, why would an automaker include Skype capability in the infotainment system? Other than having the bragging rights, there’s not much need for it. And, think of this, all it would take is an interfaced dashcam and better keyboard capability to give you full videoconferencing ability. Think of just how distracting this is.
So here’s a suggestion to Microsoft and Volvo – deep six the Skype/Cortana integration. It is an interesting technical exercise. However, given the very real potential for major distraction, it might be better to leave this one on the drawing board.