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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Facebook Utility for Mercedes Benz Users - It is not a facility - ?0nly a Bane ???

What is ultimate in luxury – does facilities add up to betterment ?

When one think of luxury, high end cars – Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Lambardini and the like could come to mind. Mercedes-Benz  is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG. The German automaker, renowned for its long history of high-end, luxury cars, wants to further connect with an increasing segment of drivers that use mobile technology and demand more integration with their automobiles.

Much has been written about social networking sites and about Facebook – million of addicted users are habituated to checking their FB accounts at Home, at  Workplace, at leisure, at restaurants, at movies and in any other possible place !  - if at all, there were to be any glass ceiling that is sought to be broken by the new frontier of use – the automobile.   Mercedes-Benz USA is bringing Facebook to its cars, with a special version of the service that is built-in to a new in-vehicle telematics system that will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.  Accessing Facebook on the road is not the exactly the same as using the social network on a personal computer or a smartphone. The version of Facebook offered in Daimler AG’s Mercedes is stripped down to a limited set of features, specially designed for drivers and centered around the locations of friends and businesses. 

According to Facebook authorities, the Mercedes version of Facebook reflects the social networking service’s expansion to a growing list of settings where screens and Internet connections are available.  “Now that cars have screens that are intelligent, you would expect that more and more car manufacturers will want to make those screens capable of allowing people to connect with their friends and take advantage of the social context that comes along with that,” – the FB official was quoted as saying.  The spokesperson added “One of the core things that people do on their screens in the car is GPS navigation and the ability to see which of your friends are nearby is something we think will be really interesting for people.”  It is also stated that  Facebook is  increasingly being integrated into televisions, with various TV manufacturers expected to showcase built-in Facebook integration at CES. DirectTV will show off a new social TV app with Facebook capabilities at CES, allowing people to share what they are watching and to add commentary. 

Technological advancement is good – let people waste more time connecting and posting about themselves and reading more unwanted things – when sitting at home, in front of TV / computer or elsewhere -  unlike television sets, offering Facebook in motor vehicles involves critical safety considerations, particularly at a time when lawmakers and safety advocates are increasingly focused on distracted driving. Already  World-over, people are using mobiles, fiddling with their music systems and such things – get distracted cause more accidents – those on road are already speaking on mobile unaware of the surrounding !! 

Defending this, the  Mercedes’ Product Manager for Telematics Services contended that  the service is no more distracting than a standard in-car navigation system or radio. Any Facebook activity that requires a user to enter text is disabled while the car is in motion, is what is being said. The Facebook application displays a variety of standard, pre-written postings that a driver can publish on Facebook with quick taps or turns of a knob. Drivers can also quickly access a list of friends that are nearby, or restaurants in the vicinity that their friends have “liked” on Facebook.

It is a luxury – Premier brand and they will tout offering FB as a service – a result of a collaboration between the two companies and a technological advancement at that.   The mbrace2 system  is to be made  available with the launch of the 2013 SL-Class Mercedes in the Spring. The company plans to make it a standard feature on all Mercedes 2013 models that will roll out throughout the year.  Only handicap that the Mercedes drivers will  be placed, is the inability  to play social games such as Zynga Inc’s Farmville. Mercedes’ version of Facebook does not support third-party apps.

The Manufacturer would only claim it as a great benefit but think of its distraught side.  It certainly would be an added distraction to a driver and remember a small mistake at wheel can result in no. of fatalities of others as also of theirs.  Is it really the need of the hour that the driver should update his status in FB 0r post a message, read the one posted by another friend or see how many of one’s friends are on-line, perhaps they too driving.  Is it driving that is foremost or texting, updating status and sending e-mail messages ?
Those gadget sellers would pose that the  interior environment is becoming a personalized space for consumers and the customer has to enjoy at comfort.  Even if this could be considered as a luxury by any yardstick, it would ever remain an interesting nuisance and a great distraction for the addictive electronic comfort seeker.  It would expose the motorists to the new risks of cyberworld adding to those present on road.  Whether a contraption is wired or wireless using technology, it still requires human interaction and human brain to utilize and that way drawing the attention of the driver away is no good for the society.

A device manufacturer would only think of enhancing his sale but seldom would think of the serious security implications and the increase risk that they pose to the road user including the one using such tool.

To me, this only appears a binder – allowing headlong plunge on the risk prone road than any tool of great advantage !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
Feb 2, 2012.

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