Recently, the news blog Ars Technica ran a story on the gamifcation of driving based on the new Chevy Volt the electric-gas hybrid by General Motors. As several thing caught my attention about the story as the first was the use of the term “widget” by Jonathan Gitlin ( the author of the story) as he makes firm mention of how the dash appears to be comprised of “widgets”. As for those who may not be aware, this is a euphemism for a general purpose something put to a specific use. So what’s the big deal about this as we have these “widget” things on our smart phones, computers and so on so why not our car too?
Well Virginia that’s the point why not and it’s about time as especially for General Motors as while I have to admit to having a soft spot for them having been a GM employee then working many years again for them after leaving, I must say they tended to be a bit hind the times as they where basically last in line to add to 3.5mm audio in jack for people to connect their MP3 players. Yes, I know those were just fad devices so why bother right, so it seems here they’ve jumped on the bandwagon with the up and coming paradigms.
As what else these little widget guys bring is modularity as my wife’s Ford Edge with Sync takes a stab at this however the gen-1 version comes up a little short so only a gold star for effort and my fingers are crossed the gen-2 will solve the problems. Yet auto waxing aside (as I also did a lot of work for Ford too), the main idea here is we are starting to solve our problems in “pieces” rather than in whole as what I find exciting about this is it will provide for a more efficient mix of problem solving at a higher resolution.
What is this higher resolution thing your mentioning there Campbell as a problem is a problem right so what gives? The answer is much like if we where to steal from the MP3 example as you can sample audio at “bit rates” or in other words speed. So the higher the “bit rate” the better the sound quality and there for the “higher the resolution”, so you can have two copies of the same song at different “bit rates” and you will have two solutions to one problem with a different quality. In other words, yes you can use a screw driver as a hammer, however the results will be less then optimal.
So it’s here that the venerable widget earns its wings as before in the car (as well as many other things) we had one solution to a problem as we had one radio, a dash, heater control and so one, however today they are blended yet separated even more to provide for a higher level of “problem solving” as for example in my wife’s Edge, one cluster shows everything and allows her to add instrumentation to her liking as since she has a heavy foot, she typically has the tach showing so she can use her paddle shifters. Yet when her less wild child side kicks in, with a push of the button the tach is gone and the car now shares with her, her driving efficiency and yes you guessed it, the tach gets far more dash time…