In an increasingly ‘always on’ world, many of the world’s largest car makers and technology companies are working in tandem to deploy powerful new tools into their new creations. As the voice command system in the soon-to-be-launched Tata Zest shows, the in-car infotainment systems are not only getting smarter but affordable too
A week ago I was driving a car on the empty roads of Goa when I received an SMS. Instantly, the car read out the message to me. Soon, the cabin started getting hot and I gave a voice command. Instantly, the car increased the blower speed. I didn’t like the music being played and I asked the car to change it. Instantly, the car played me another song. No, I am not talking about some high-end luxury car, it is a soon-to-be-launched sub-4 metre entry-level sedan—the Tata Zest.
While the Tata Zest may be a one-off example—and its voice command system is yet to be tested by customers—as far as luxury cars are concerned, the in-car infotainment systems have clearly come of age. Consider Volvo cars. Sudeep Narayan, marketing & PR director, Volvo Cars India, recently told me about the Volvo App. “In many countries across the world, using the Volvo App, the driver can not only switch on the AC of the car remotely but the car itself can book service directly with the dealer.”
Narayan then told me about the City Safety feature that many Volvo cars in India come equipped with. “We know that you want to avoid collisions under all circumstances, also at low speeds. And it only takes a moment’s distraction in a busy city centre to find yourself in such a scenario. That’s where City Safety helps. It is a laser-based technology that can sense an impending collision at speeds of up to 50 kmph.” He elaborates: “In the first instance, City Safety prepares the brakes so that they respond faster when you press the pedal. And if you fail to brake, City Safety applies the brakes for you and switches off the throttle to lessen the effects of a collision. If the difference in speed between your car and the one in front is less than 15 kmph, City Safety can even prevent a collision from happening in the first place.”
Mention must be made here of the Active Bending Lights that many Volvo cars in India come equipped with. Now, let’s say you