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The Future of Distracted Driving? AT&T Opens “Drive Studio” in Atlanta

Published January 21, 2014 by Bruce Millar
The Future of Distracted Driving? AT&T Opens “Drive Studio” in Atlanta

It’s estimated that distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people every year in the U.S., with many of the fatalities due to texting-while-driving accidents. That number of distracted driving accidents has increased in the last two decades as mobile communication technology has advanced and captured our attention when we should be focused on driving. With laws regulating phone use while driving getting stricter and the demand for connectivity-at-all-costs, there is a demand for automakers to find innovative ways for drivers to communicate safely when driving.

Drive Studio in Atlanta GA

On the cutting edge of this research and development effort is AT&T, which recently opened the Drive Studio in Atlanta. According to the AT&T press release, the studio is a workshop for innovators that want to be involved in creating connected cars. It’s a 5,000-plus-square-foot facility that brings together tech companies and car makers in the same space to develop vehicles that act as smart phones, allowing drivers to keep their phones put away while behind the wheel.

The endeavor involves tech companies, car makers, developers, and the phone company itself as they all try to design and enhance the connectivity of vehicles.

Chris Penrose, senior vice president of emerging devices with AT&T Mobility, says the aim is to create innovative solutions that improve the experience of drivers and passengers alike, increasing entertainment and connectivity while decreasing driving distractions.

The Future of Connected Cars: GA Car Accident Lawyers

AT&T offers an illustration of what the connected car of the future may be capable of doing. In addition to advanced vehicle diagnostics that could alert drivers and technicians to mechanical problems long before they happen, the communications giant sees the future of automotive connectivity providing a sort of mobile command center for drivers.

They imagine cars with built-in 4G LTE connectivity—providing web access, streaming video, music, and more. The company is careful to add that the browsing and video-viewing features would be intended for passengers, not drivers.

They are already working on global services that would allow car makers to connect vehicles regardless of their location.

Hands Free Operations To Reduce Distracted Driving in Atlanta, GA

Hands-free operations would be taken to a new level with advanced voice recognition. The technology would recognize slang, speech patterns, and more, virtually eliminating the frustrations of trying to talk to a computer.

Remote services would allow car owners to view their vehicle from afar, find it in a parking lot, start it remotely, and track it if stolen. Parents could even receive notifications if their teen driver went over a preset speed limit or traveled beyond an allowed perimeter.

In essence, the connected car of the future would do all of the things your smart phone does, and more.

One safety app in the works, called GoodTimes, would use AT&T’s call management API and a brainwave monitor to screen drivers when a call comes in. If the driver is caught in a stressful traffic situation or is already distracted, the call would be routed to voicemail or a message to try again later.

If it all seems a bit overwhelming, rest assured many of the features are a long way off. Still, if the past few decades of technology offer any lessons in the rate of advances, we should accept that a “smart phone on wheels” is on the way– it’s only a matter of time.

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