There are scarcely any old-school devices left that haven’t become “smart” in recent years. Lamp switches, curtain rods, door locks, and, of course, cell phones have all been augmented with technology that gives users unprecedented control over their functions. Automobiles are no exception to this rule, as anyone who is familiar with developments like Ford‘s Sync knows all too well. However, with all of the advances that have improved the driving experience, there’s one option that no production automaker currently offers.
What is this feature, you ask? Simply put- separate environments for the driver and passengers. Without this innovation, automotive comfort will always be a series of compromises at best. Not following? Then imagine this:
• Joe loves bluegrass music, the twangier the better. His wife, on the other hand, thinks anyone who owns a banjo should be shot. She prefers the urban rhythms of hip-hop, which make Joe nauseous. The two spend a lot of time in the same vehicle, so what can be done? Should they resort to ear buds, or maybe divorce court? Unnecessary. Simply have a separate, soundproof compartment for each person in the front, and both can indulge their tastes without disturbing the other.
• The one thing the kids love about their parent’s new SUV is the video game console they can enjoy while lounging in the back. But mom and dad find the sounds of their entertainment device almost as annoying as fingernails scraping a chalkboard. The solution? A clear, retractable glass divider between the front and rear of the vehicle. The parents can keep an eye on the kids and even talk to them using an intercom. But they need never be tormented by the sounds of screaming zombies again.
• The four co-workers finally decided to go green and save a little money at the same time, so they’re carpooling. Problem is, their personalities couldn’t be more different. John is a workaholic and can’t stay off his business cell phone long enough to take a breath. Sam likes to snooze during the commute but needs silence to nod off. Sally is a smoker (no explanation needed), and Bob, the captain of the vessel, hates all of these people. No problem, since his luxury sedan has four separate compartments, one for him and three more for those he despises. Each carpooler has his or her own universe to enjoy during the 25-minute ride to the office, and all is well.
So that’s it, the perfect solution to the ultimate driving problem: people with annoying habits. For the sake of anyone who has ever longed for the joys of solitary motoring, we beg the auto exec reading these words to get the ball rolling on this idea. How this idea comes into fruition is entirely up to automakers. Plastic barriers Personal bubbles? Force fields? Who knows, but we welcome any developments in this uncharted territory of automotive design.