Beat the allure of too many gadgets
The first car we'll see with Eyes Free is the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch, early next year. Picture: Daimler AG

Keeping our eyes on the road has never been harder.

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Today's cabins have so many alluring gadgets it's easy to want to play.

That's why hands-free helpers such as Bluetooth and voice command are becoming common.

A coup for Apple is its signing of nine car makers to install the brand's Eyes Free voice-command system.

It's the iPhone's Siri for cars - you press a button on the steering wheel then ask Siri to do things.

Like: "Ring mum", "Take this memo", "Answer Bob Green's text" or "Radio station 6PR".

The first car we'll see with Eyes Free is the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch, early next year. It should start around $30,000.

Other brands involved are BMW, GM, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet.

Meanwhile, driver distraction is being tackled in a different way.

University of Kansas researchers believe dashboards have too much busy detail. Drivers have to peer to find what they're after.

The Kansas idea is a dashboard whose displays adapt to different situations.

The information could change size and shape, and even disappear, depending on input by sensors and tracking devices.

An example would be a fuel gauge that is displayed small when the tank is full but gets larger and brighter closer to empty.

Cars can already detect the speed limit, via cameras that read speed signs and sat-nav.

So the speedo could change colours when driving too fast or too slow. Some car makers are beginning to deploy virtual instruments, with Jaguar a leader.

For instance, its tachometer will morph into various other instruments depending what's most needed at the time.

Also becoming more common are head-up displays.

These project speed and sat-nav information just below the driver's eyeline.

So the eyes don't need to stray very much.

Stephen Williams

The West Australian

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