In a recent open letter to radio Jim Buczkowski, a Ford Research and Innovation director, accused broadcasters of dragging their feet regarding HD Radio, declaring:
HD Radio technology can provide this look and feel (of dashboard consistency), but analog radio cannot.
Perhaps the Ford Research and Innovation department should worry more about the dangers of their MyFord Touch system rather than condescendingly complain about analog radio.
In January we reported that Ford buyers were so confused by the system that dealers were putting on 45 minute sessions to explain how to operate MyFord Touch.
Now Consumer Union takes Ford and the other manufacturers to task in Connected Cars: A New Risk. Devoting five pages of their annual car issue to the subject, they declared:
The control systems in many models–-the way you operate the audio, climate, navigation, and other systems–-are becoming needlessly complicated.
Consumer Reports concluded that:
Any system that requires drivers to take their eyes off the road for too long or engage in unnecessary distractions can be dangerous.
And voice recognition systems don’t seem to be the answer. University of Utah researchers found that even systems using speech increased driver reaction time by 30 percent.
In a side-bar called Controls Gone Wild, Consumer Union points out that for a parked Ford Focus it took a trained human-factors engineer six steps and 11 seconds to just launch an iPod.
On a BMW it took the engineer six steps and 10 seconds to manually tune the radio.
On a Hyundai Equus it took the engineer only five steps and 5 seconds to choose a radio station preset. (Click on box at left.)
In other words, the safest audio task you can do with these complicated infotainment centers is tune to one of your regular analog radio stations.
And of course its safer, takes even fewer steps, and less than 2 seconds to do the same thing on a regular radio, a point made by Consumer Reports.
Maybe instead of complaining about analog radio, Ford ought to redesign their Touch system so that it’s as easy as changing your (analog) station. Now that would be innovation.