Tens of thousands of people die each year in automobile crashes and accidents are counted in the millions. Anytime a driver takes their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road, they introduce the risk of something occurring that they can’t prevent. If a driver can control everything inside the vehicle without taking their hands off the wheel and without looking, countless lives could be saved. That is the idea behind the innovation that we are developing. Without taking your hands off the wheel, you will be able to operate everything. Change the radio, run the AC, roll down the windows, dial a phone and even program your GPS on the steering wheel at the tips of your fingers.
The solution is to build a computer interface that can control all elements inside the vehicle without relying on touch-screens, pointing devices or anything that requires diverting the driver’s vision. Some have attempted to use voice to control things but noise and lack of accuracy prevent voice recognition from being effective. We have designed a keyboard based on ten keys, one for each of the driver’s fingers. Tap one or hold one and tap another and you have 100 distinct simple key presses, plenty enough to control everything you need. The entire keyboard is represented and the alphabetic keys are very simple. A single press for the first ten letters, hold one thumb for the next eight, hold the other thumb for the last eight letters. Press control-“r” to operate the radio and direct dial a station or just press cursor up or down to change stations. Press control-“w” and choose the window to open. Press control-“a” for AC or Control-“h” for heat and control-“g” would activate the GPS. This eliminates the driver looking and reaching for knobs or switches on the dashboard and this interface can also be used in conjunction with voice to improve accuracy and help reduce frustration.
The layout is easy to learn and uses contextual clues to help you identify where keystrokes are located as detailed in the chart below. Deployment will be in a simple, inexpensive steering wheel cover that can easily be added to any vehicle and utilize wireless connectivity to the vehicles telematrics. Combine this interface with heads-up-display technology and the driver keeps eyes forward and hands on the wheel, prepared to act at all times. Governments are banning the use of smartphones and texting for good reasons but this technology can reduce your reliance on these devices and still keep the driver connected safely. The target for this innovation is police, fire rescue and military, and those that currently use computers in their vehicles and are subject to training before using it. Civilian use will only occur after the technology is tested and proven to be safer and after extensive training. It is our hope that we can help reduce costly accidents and prevent young lives from being lost.