Internet enabled cars? Surely not in 2000 … oh yes!

The BBC news item below shows a report on the UK’s first Internet enabled car – produced and invented by Bunnyfoot in 2000. The car was intended as a demonstration of the essential importance of usability and accessibility … our message got somehow lost in translation in the newspapers and TV shows that ran the story, but it taught us a lot about different communication methods and to always look to the future.

Since then (is it really 10 years ago?) we have produced hundreds of video demonstrations showing usability testing, eyetracking and accessibility in action, our customer experience presentations at seminars and conferences etc, and many will be appearing here in the next few months – but this BBC one was one of our first … and is still a firm favourite.

What is perhaps surprising is that this type of technology and other ‘alternative interfaces’ haven’t really come on that far in the last 10 years– it seemed then (in 2000) that things like sophisticated voice interfaces for all sorts of devices and uses were bubbling just under the surface. In 2009 though you are likely to be annoyed at best, but most probably bemused, by the majority of telephone interfaces (has anyone tried Egg’s?), never mind anything more ambitious. It seems like it should be simple but this type of interface requires just as much research and careful design (perhaps more) than seemingly more complex visual interfaces. I’ll return to discuss this in more detail in a future post.

The point of the Bunnymobile video?

It was meant to demonstrate that usability and accessibility are vital for the interfaces of the future:

  • the car used software that blind people use to translate web sites into voice = accessibility
  • and needed to be simple enough so distraction didn’t cause you to crash (amongst other things) = usability

It seems we were right, and they still are important … lots more challenging and interesting work to do though.

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We are psychologists, interaction and design experts, researchers, usability specialists. We cover Web, software, mobile, print, service design and more.
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