There’s a problem with technology: it’s not human. Technology often can’t express when there are problems, especially when it doesn’t know problems exist. There’s a gap between the consumer and the product that can often only be bridged by a middle-man repair shop.
Creating products that communicate their problems effectively is one of the next major steps in user-friendliness.
Nowadays you have Bluetooth, WiFi, email, IM, SMS, and endless other ways of wirelessly connecting and communicating. The chips are small, inexpensive, and easy to integrate; there are WiFi memory cards for cameras that fit on a postage-stamp size product.
So why can’t my car send me an email?
Instead of having to guess when my car actually needs an oil change, brakes changed, etc., why can’t my car tell me myself?
My wife and I were talking over the weekend about cars, and how annoying and discouraging it is when your car needs repairs. Sometimes, the only way you know your car needs work is when the mechanic breaks the news: your car needs work done.
How to tell your car is in trouble:
- You have a sticker on your windshield that gives you a hint when your next oil change is due — but that sticker might fade, peel, or be replaced.
- Your car might have a computer that knows exactly what’s wrong, but won’t tell you unless it’s hooked up to a special diagnostic machine.
- You may hear, feel, or smell something is wrong with your car and take it in
- A mechanic, who may or may not properly identify and diagnose problems
My car’s name is Boomer.
People already anthropomorphize their cars: we give them names, recognize them as cute/strong/fast/smart. Cars are more than a tool; they often mirror their owner’s personality.
Since cars already provoke an emotional response, I want to propose something: have my car tell me what’s wrong. I’d rather hear that my car needs a repair from my car.
I would like to get an email from my car like this:
It’s been around 4,500 miles since my last oil change, and I’ve been doing really well — even though the oil people tell you to change oil every 3,000 miles. But recently, I’ve noticed I’m not feeling as good while accelerating, and I think it’s because I need new oil.
Could you please change my oil? Here are a few nearby places:
- Option 1 – 1.3 miles away
- Option 2 – 1.5 miles away
- Option 3 – 2.1 miles away ( I found a coupon online for 30% off!)I’ll let you know if anything changes, but I will definitely need my oil changed within 1 week.Thanks!Boomer, your VW Passat Wagon
How about getting a text message from your DVD player?
What other technology would you like to hear from? What obstacles are there to better communication by our products?