I’ve never really spent much money on my car stereo, which had always resulted either a serious lack of features or terrible overall user experience. My last head unit was a no name brand straight out of China with a million features but an interface so terrible I wasn’t sure how to access any of them. It was my own fault for thinking that a few hundred dollars could buy you a ‘good’ 7inch touch screen head unit with more feature than a small space station.
Until a few weeks ago, I thought it was high time I invested in a quality head unit for my new car that wouldn’t cause me to swerve off the road every time I changed the track. Shopping around and asking all my petrol head friends, I ended up with a little Alpine unit which does everything I need. It’s a great unit, 7inch touchscreen, iPod connectivity, bluetooth, maps, all that great stuff, but what I really noticed is that for quite a bit more than what you pay for an iPad, you still get a resistive touch screen with a clunky interface to boot. It seems to me that these In-Car Entertainment companies are all about packing new features in, and not to stressed about what its like to actually use them. I mean seriously, do I really need 5.1 surround in my car? Probably not.
All this got me thinking about how in-car audio could be improved to be easier and improve your driving experience and best of all, make it safer. It seems the car companies are starting to get on board with new systems like Ford Sync which is seriously cool, but what about us kids that can’t afford the latest car but still want a nice experience when it comes to their in car entertainment. I think we have the technology available to us to make a really awesome experience without having needing to be integrated throughout the car while its in the factory. The potential for the stand alone head unit is massive and its being held back through its interface.
I have been getting together some sketches and ideas on how we could leverage the technology we have to create better interfaces and I will hopefully post some up here soon so maybe one of those companies can steal my ideas and build me a new head unit 😉