Monthly Archives: April 2016

Legislation Encourages Safer Driving Through Technology

Beginning in January 2012, commercial drivers are prohibited from use of hand-held cellphones and new requirements are going into place concerning texting while driving – and new vehicle technology is actually helping all drivers to drive more safely.

A joint rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the latest action endorsed by the U.S. Department of Transportation that aims to end distracted driving. This federal ban on cell phone took effect January 3, 2012. Legislators from many states are trying to get these laws extended to all drivers in all states.

In recent months major truck and bus companies, such as Greyhound, Wal-Mart, UPS, Conoco-Phillips and others, have changed their policies to ban their drivers from using hand-held cell phones, to make and receive phone calls, or for texting. In other words, talk or text on a cellphone while driving and you could lose your job.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research in 2009 more than 5,400 people died and a half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. The NHTSA also noted that distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of the overall traffic fatalities in 2009.

In the past few years, most automobile companies have been developing in-vehicle technology so they can offer Bluetooth hands-free in-vehicle communications. The whole idea is to keep the driver’s eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. Although an option for most vehicles, more and more drivers are demanding it from their vehicles.

Ford Motor Company goes further by having an app (911 Assist) that assists emergency personnel. Their hands-free infotainment system, called Sync, was co-developed with help from Microsoft. With Sync, if the “paired” phone is on and active and the vehicle is involved an accident that triggers the airbags, then it automatically makes the system dial the closest 911 dispatcher. It relays the latitude, longitude and altitude plus it opens the microphone so the dispatcher can speak with occupants of the car.

Depending on the cellphone, some users of Ford’s Sync system can also have their text messages, interpreted and read back to them by the system. With the Sync system, a driver can receive and even send back text messages via voice (albeit a short list of canned messages). Ford and Microsoft use the MAP protocol with SMS messaging. Some Android based phones and some Blackberry phones can send and receive text messages through the Sync system. This allows drivers to stay more focused on the road. Currently Apple engineers are not complying with this protocol and so Apple iPhone users cannot use the text-to-voice functions (unless they are using the new iPhone 4s with Siri). Siri, a voice-operated assistant, can be accessed through Sync and she will find and read text messages and play tehm back through the vehicle’s sound system.

As more vehicle manufacturers expand the Bluetooth capabilities of their vehicles, then more and more drivers will have the opportunity to avoid using their handheld cellphones while driving. Hopefully this ban will reduce the number of fatalities from distracted drivers.

In fact, the automotive insurance industry is already listing ten safety features they think all new car buyers should be looking for in their next vehicle. The list includes:

Intelligent Cruise Control – This helps your vehicle maintain a safe distance from cars ahead of it.

Lane Drifting Warning – This helps drivers who have inadvertently drifted out of their lane and could be going into another lane or going off the road. The constant monitoring keeps drivers on their toes.

Tire Pressure Monitoring – This is now required by the NHTSA on all vehicles built since 2008. Helps alert drivers if a tire is over- or under-inflated.

Rear View Cameras – When the car’s transmission is placed in reverse it automatically displays a view on a monitor to let the driver see what’s behind them.

Blind Spot Detection – Sensors at the rear of the vehicle alert the driver so they can safely make lane changes.

Adaptive Headlights – These do more than ordinary headlights to make it easier for drivers to see what’s ahead or around the corner.

Intelligent Airbag Sensors – Using spontaneous sensors, the vehicle determine which airbags need to be fired and at what speed to keep drivers safe in a collision.

Emergency Response Systems – In addition to calling 911 for assistance, this system shuts of the fuel delivery system, disconnects the battery from the alternator, turns on interior lights and unlocks the doors.

Rollover Prevention – Complicated sensors detect a rollover in progress and fire off appropriate airbags and other defenses to keep occupants safe.

Night Vision Assistance – Vehicle equipped with this have infrared sensors that can look further ahead on the road to detect people or animals that might be difficult to see.

So safe driving can be enhanced with increased driver awareness, safer roads, tougher traffic laws and vehicles built with better technology.

High Fuel Prices in Airline Industry is Causing Technology

The goal of a business or corporation is to make a profit and to do so they must perform a desired service or make a needed or desired product that the customer or consumer is willing to impart a unit of trade for; a dollar or many dollars you see? When fuel prices go up in the transportation sector business must find ways to pass on these costs and streamline their operations to do more, carry more, more efficiently.

This subject came up recently when someone asked a moderator of an online think tank to explain. Here is the question; “Can we expect to see improvements in airline travel in regards to cost change or fuel-surcharges?”

Yes we sure can for instance the ATM Air Traffic Control Management and SimLabs NASA systems research and development to streamline and prevent delays and more efficiency amongst airlines even if the weather causes too much stacking. Also point-to-point strategies will move more people and freight in more direct routing, meaning greater efficiency; Future projects like NASA STATS and Future Flight make sense too.

One very good thing we are also witnessing is the hand-me-down technology transfers from the United States military into the private sector as well as the DOE Department of Energy Efforts to aid in improved aircraft efficiencies, alternative fuels and better transportation innovations

Art Tells the Technological Future Info

Jean Cocteau once said, “we only serve as a model for the portrait of our fame.” Tell that one to Dorian Grey. It parallels the old “Chicken or the Egg” deal. Which came first? Like the preconceived elements of the computer and tech world, microchips, holographic interactive school teachers, global positioning systems, retna scanners, microwave popcorn, wireless remote controls, hover crafts, laser guns, and invisibility rings.

Fantasy or “remember when…”?

George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, a dystopian novel setting forth the fears of an intrusively bureaucratized state of the future. “Big Brother is watching you!” And now I can find my lost dog with a GPS microchip implant. I heard that some top secret organizations use the VeriChip implant in human hands in order to maintain security. Scan in and scan out, how freaky or cool is that?

Truth be told, almost every technological advancement of our modern age has been foreseen in a fantasy or sci-fi novel, painting or movie of some kind. Lucky guesses? Or, does science really copy the fantastic developments of the artistic pioneers, painters, and writers?

Where is this going?

Well, I am not too sure at this point, but I can tell you one thing, technological advancement can sure make life easier. It can be said that we fantasize for pure pleasure and invent for production. We are a society of development and consumption. We push forward every day in order to make life more beautiful, or at least that is the goal.

The idea of an embedded microchip (VeriChip) that contains all our medical records, connections with our financial systems and is trackable could sure make life safe and easy. Yet it seems to potentially open a whole new realm of corruption and ethical argumentation. There are already loads of websites spouting disagreements with the usage of the “VeriChip” implant in humans.

In essence, a VeriChip is a small radio transmitter about the size of a grain of rice that is injected under a person’s skin. It transmits a unique ID number whenever it is within a few feet of a special receiver unit. The system was designed to replace ID systems such as company ID cards and medical emergency ID tags. It is speculated that such a chip could also be used to replace driver licenses, passports, and credit cards.

Embrace or Run Away?

Well, as far as crime is concerned, we could practically say good-bye to kidnapping and robbery. But along with that, there goes privacy and the whole innocent until proven guilty ideal. No need to concern yourself with where your spouse really was last night, or where your child is at the moment.

Now what about the Book of Revelations and all that about the “Mark of the Beast”? Since the FDA approoved the use of the implant for medical records last October, there have been websites popping up all over telling tales of disdain in the Christian eye.

Truth be told, there are numerous examples of these chips being used today in everyday life. Millions of animals around the world have been chipped for medical purposes. In Mexico, city officials have been chipped for security reasons and to prevent kidnapping. And recently at the Baja Beach Resort in Barcelona, Spain, patrons can get a microchip with their financial information implanted so they can pay for their cocktails with a swipe of the arm. Is that VIP or what?

What is the bottom line?

Well, I’m not here to espouse one extreme or another. I am neither the zealot with disdain for the system nor the futurist with the tech mind pressing forth. I am a mere network engineer that runs a web design and tech support company and seems to think that future and science-fiction are getting pretty well acquainted.

From Big Brother to the Mark of the Beast, from safe, efficient living to streamilining the medical and financial world, we are on the verge of advancements so great, that Artists are painting reality right before our eyes. We are living in sci-fi and witnessing what our ancestors only dreamed of.