Hello fellow tech lovers and welcome to yet another exciting edition of This Week in Technology for June 24th, 2013. The headline news around the world is almost singularly dominated with discussions revolving around former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, but we managed to scrape together a few other tech tidbits for our loyal readers just the same. This week’s edition takes a closer look at the dangers of voice-activated gadgets in our autos, a new Theft Deterrence Act in the Senate, and a flying bicycle that makes us all want to be kids all over again. So buckle up, fellow readers, because here comes our lead story-
AAA Claims Voice-Activated Tech Dangerous
Our lead story of the day is probably not something that you’ll enjoy reading…which is exactly why it has to be reported. The Foundation for Traffic Safety, a division of AAA, released findings last week that voice activated technology within modern vehicles is a severe detriment to driver safety. David Strayer, a neuroscientist with the University of Utah, found conclusive evidence that common voice-assisted tasks such as posting to Facebook or composing an email could place drivers at the same risk of a crash as someone with a .08 blood alcohol level.
The reason for the concern is how the brain processes information; even if a driver has both hands firmly on the wheel and eyes on the road, their brains are still going through a cognitive process that requires a large amount of focus. Reaction times are drastically compromised and the chances of an accident are increased exponentially. At the same time, however, car manufacturers see voice-activated technology as one of the most in-demand options on modern vehicles due to our tech savvy world that wants to always remain connected. Until there are laws forbidding this type of technology, it will be readily available (and often standard) on most new models.
Senator Schumer’s Theft Deterrence Act
In other news, Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has recently introduced the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act to empower cell phone manufacturers in their efforts to permanently deactivate stolen mobile technology devices. It would also drastically increase fines and jail time for those who are found to be in possession of stolen cellular phones or those who modify them to circumvent current and future laws. While such a proposal may seem like overkill, Schumer and several others feel that it is necessary.
Then again, who does a law like this really protect? It certainly is not aimed to help the victims of cell phone and tablet theft, nor is it geared towards enabling law enforcement in locating criminals. While the law states that part of the goal is higher awareness across the board, it appears that the real intent here is to disable stolen mobile devices to possibly ensure additional profits for the manufacturers.
A Flying Bicycle…Really?
In case the title to our final tech story of the day had you scratching your head, we can virtually promise that it only grows more confusing from this point forward. That’s because several companies in the Czech Republic have come together on a collaborative project to create the world’s first fully operational flying bicycle. That’s right; part BMX bike, part helicopter with front and rear twin rotors, and 100% controlled by remote control. A video below shows the prototype aircraft in action-
While there are probably dozens of pertinent questions surrounding the need for a flying bicycle, there’s no denying that it looks like a fun toy to have. We still don’t quite understand the bicycle part (who would pedal a bike when they could glide through the sky) but that’s a topic for another day. It’s a neat invention anyway.
That’s all we have for you in This Week in Technology for June 24th, 2013; be sure to check back with us next week to see where the world of tech will take us.