Biometric Sensors and Funky Shifters... What is Ford Up To?
So, just a couple of weeks ago, Fortune ran a story about Ford CEO, Mark Fields, approaching Flex (the maker of devices like wearable fitness trackers and diabetes monitors) about integrated biosensors into cars. Fields believes that the use of biometric sensors could help prevent traffic accidents and fatalities long before Level 5 autonomy comes into play. The main purpose would be to detect if a person was sleepy so that the car could act accordingly. But, with a little bit of forward thinking, it could also be used to determine if you’ve been drinking, doing drugs, or are otherwise inebriated. But, perhaps Ford needs to install biometric sensors in its facilities instead, considering this ridiculously confusing shifter design that it’s filed with the patent office.
The patent isn’t exactly new, as it was filed back in November of 2015, but it’s what’s inside the patent description that’s really troubling. See, instead of having your traditional shifter on the steering column or center console, Ford wants to add a pair of switches to the steering wheel – one to activate drive and the other to switch into park, reverse, and neutral. Here’s the interesting thing, though. You have to cycle through the park, reverse, and neutral gears to get to the gear you want each time. Furthermore, based on deciphering the outrageous language of the patent, once you’re in reverse, you wouldn’t be able to return to park without first putting the car in drive.
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People are Getting Dumber and Automakers are Making it Worse
These types of features make it easier for us to ignore ourselves and what’s going on around us without worry
First off, this whole biometric sensor situation – something that Ford wants primarily to tell you whether or not you’re sleepy – is just outrageous. That’s just as bad as the rear seat sensors that remind you that you have a kid or a dog in the back seat, and these biometric sensors could ultimately serve the same purpose going forward as well. There was a time when we took responsibility for ourselves – we knew when to pull over and rest, and how the hell do you forget that you have a kid in the back seat? That’s called being irresponsible and a bad parent. These types of features make it easier for us to ignore ourselves and what’s going on around us without worry. And, while advancements in technology can be a great thing, it can also dumb us down as a species and make us overly reliable on technology instead of our natural instincts. If that’s not devolution, I don’t know what is.
Just every other “modern” shifter design that's recently been put into production has been problematic or dangerous
And then there’s this shifter design that is just outright retarded. What about having to cycle through gears via a switch is intuitive at all? On top of that, just about every other “modern” shifter design that’s recently been put into production has been problematic or dangerous. Think about the FCA recall for its electronic shifters. So, why mess around with something that’s already working well? Quit trying to fix things that aren’t broke and quit making something simple more difficult. The whole idea of having to cycle through each gear to get back to park, or having to go from reverse into drive, just to engage park, is just outlandish and dumb. I would have to say the shifter design will never make it into production, but then again, someone over at Ford thought it was a good enough idea to draw up some sketches, ridiculous wording, and file a patent, so who knows, maybe it will.
With that said, automakers really need to quit trying to fix things that aren’t broke. Quit trying to redesign the damn shifter already. I don’t care if it takes up space on my center console or my steering column – Ford’s patented design is just annoying. On top of that, quit helping people devolve by using technology to take over natural functions they should be doing themselves.
Source: U.S. Patent Office