Posted on Friday 24 February 2006


I haven’t seen my Dad in New Jersey for awhile so I took a day off to get out to see what he was up to. Being retired has many rewards for a life of work, one of the nicest is that my Dad can afford to trade up his car every year if he want to and “spend his children’s inheritance” as he puts it.

So it is my Dad upgraded his Buick to a LeSabre this week. One of the interesting things about Detroit and luxery cars is that my father now has a car that has too many features for him to ever realize, let alone utilize. Other than the music system or the OnStar system which are impressive on their own, his car boasts some sensors that I hadn’t heard of yet but was intrigued just the same.

Rainsense:This trademarked feature boasts “…the moisture sensor is mounted on the interior of the windshield below the rearview mirror and is used to automatically operate the wipers. This system operates by monitoring the amount of moisture build-up on the windshield.

Twilight Sentinel:This light sensor system mounted on the dashboard monitors the light levels and puts on the headlights if needed and also work in concert with the wipers during times of rain downfalls and overcast skies.

Solar Sensors: These sensors monitor the heat from sunlight as well as the ambient temperature inside the vehicle cabin. If the passenger is getting more than the driver the heating or cooling system adjusts accordingly.

So what does all of this mean? Well, to my Dad who admittedly has tech overload they will work to make him more comfortable but he will not have any dealings with the systems at all. In fact after bringing the car home he looked at the manual, was a bit intimidated then went out in his older car until he could find time to read the manual.
If the systems work with no active intervension from the user than the system works as it should. The best technology should be invisible but always active to offer the user the best experience. A good example is the work that went into the Macintosh system, most users would not part with their macs for a hundred windows machines but they won’t always know why, it just works.

So what is next for the Buick set? How about using the onstar navigation to match the cars location and turn off a turn signal that has been left on a bit too long… my Dad has better things to do, like listen to Glen Miller or Artie Shaw ;-)

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