16.12.09

Speakers boost road safety

AUTHOR: Inavate

Cutting-edge audio technology could be called into action to help drivers’ reaction times and ensure road safety. A research team at the University of Oxford has published a paper that shows drivers will respond better if the brain does not have to handle multiple spatial locations. Therefore transparent loudspeakers, placed on a windscreen and used for a hands-free kit, should minimise confusion caused by listening to a telephone while focusing on the road.

Professor Charles Spence, from the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, published the paper in the journal ‘Human Factors’. It was picked up by science news portal Physorg.com which reported that “phone-using drivers are four times more likely to crash and their reaction times are likely to be slower”.

Spence’s research group picked up funding from Toyota to carry out experiments on drivers’ reaction times. As yet, no automotive manufacturers have said they are looking seriously at invisible speaker technology for hands-free kits. However, when they do the audio technology is already there.

InAVate recently reported on Emo Labs which has developed a ‘speaker film’ currently tipped for use on displays. The speaker material is thin and transparent, properties which would make it a good candidate for use on car windscreens and offer the added advantage of installation after manufacture. Furthermore, adapting a technology like FeONIC’s Whispering Window, which can transform smooth hard surfaces - such as a shop window – into a loudspeaker, would allow the speaker to be incorporated when the car was manufactured.