From what the company's president discussed on MSNBC this morning, this new capability is almost entirely hands free. Drivers simply need to push a new button on their OnStar devices and then talk into the microphone. That voice monologue will then be automatically turned into text that will appear on his/her Facebook page.
Pretty wild, huh? If you're stuck in a frustrating traffic jam, all your Facebook fans can read about it as it's happening. Or, maybe you've just past something of interest on the road. Once again, everyone you care about will soon read about it.
What I found most illuminating about this announcement though is what the OnStar president said about other possible coming features/applications. He mentioned technologies that could allow for live video conferencing and even the ability to do much more social networking on the Internet. Of course, he also reinforced numerous times that his company focuses on safety first. That's why all of these applications are (or will be) virtually hands free.
When I first watched this story, I thought this is pretty cool because these new breakthrough technologies have come so far. But, then something in my mind didn't add up when I combined the objective of driving safely with the reality that by leveraging new gadgets such as these, drivers will have to focus on so many other variables that don't include the road (or the car in front of them). That spells potential disaster.
We all know that texting, emailing and, generally, having conversations on PDAs while driving causes many more accidents these days. OnStar's new apps might be quasi hands free, but that won't help many drivers who fumble about figuring out how to make their connection to Facebook work (while they drive).
I also wonder about when enough is enough. In this case, do new boundaries need to be mandated? For example, do we (as a society) really need to be completely connected to our friends/fans every single minute of the day? And, although video conferencing could certainly provide another twist to making business more accessible and personal, what's so appealing about watching someone stare at the road ahead versus just listening to him/her on a phone call. Some technology innovations like that simply add very little appeal.
No, it seems to me that the automobile should be one place where safety and common sense need to take precedence over accessibility and efficiencies. That means the concept of digital driving should really be limited to playing a Wii video game at home. Not an OnStar application that probably will have more of a negative impact than positive benefits.