Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why does your vehicle smell like “forest”?

In last July, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced the development of new air conditioning system called, “Forest AC”. This new AC system creates optimum cabin environment by controlling temperature, ventilation, aroma, and humidity. You say, aroma? Yes, I know. Nissan says the new system was based on a research on effects of aroma on human mental activity. You can read the rest as I was curious about what can really do with aroma. There are some systems out there to control automatic temperature of interior of your car and add pollen filters to help you make comfortable while you drive. All these system goes under ubiquitous computing. This new system even goes further by blocking order and removing order using “ion”. Making feel comfortable as you drive is a good idea, but you wonder about the process of designing system like that.

Nissan says…

“Nissan develops technology to set new standards in terms of comfort, quality and other factors for every aspect of the automobile, putting human characteristics first, based on the Life on Board concept, which is designed to deliver more joy of driving.”

Where am I going with this? Well, I am wondering if engineers in general think because they can develop system like this, they will develop it. I wondered if they ever consider users and context of driving in general. You can put as many sensors as you can install in a vehicle, but I wonder if they try to understand the context of driving. Making driver “not think” may not apply to this context. Did they just forget about “experience of driving”? Humidity and airflow control maybe good idea, but aroma has some issues. I think “scent” is another sensor drivers use to detect something wrong in a car. Is it good idea to take away users natural senses while driving? I thought drivers should be using all the senses to connect with vehicle and roads to create “driving experience”. I wonder what Dourish would say about relationship between a driver, car, and the road. Did he think these senses ruin your interaction with the world surround us?

Source:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/07/27/nissans-forest-ac-blows-wild-scents-through-your-ride-to-keep-y/

http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/NEWS/2009/_STORY/090723-01-e.html

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you Hiro-- especially with your points "I think “scent” is another sensor drivers use to detect something wrong in a car. Is it good idea to take away users natural senses while driving? I thought drivers should be using all the senses to connect with vehicle and roads to create “driving experience”."

    Definitely smell can help detect not only car problems, but to detect what's going on outside the car, for example, fires.

    I don't know if Nissan assumes that their other advanced technologies would detect problems for you, so you would not need to/get to the point of smelling the problem?

    Smell is part of my overall driving experience: coming over the mountains from the valley and having that first whiff of ocean air is always welcoming, but there are times where I wish I could "turn off the smell", like when they're spreading fresh tar or I'm stuck behind a bus.

    While smell helps me detect my location on I-5…"The thing Coalinga is known for becomes inescapable to anyone driving this section of Interstate 5. It hits you like a wall. Fierce. Haunting. First it hits your nose, then it lingers on your tongue. Like something died in your mouth, and then rotted." (http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/12/21/coalinga/ ) this is one place I would rather smell forest ;)

    I would relate this to the car stereo: just as Nissan's new feature changes what you smell, your stereo changes what you hear. There are lots of times my songs are so loud I wouldn't hear an engine problem. But there is no way I could do a 7 hour drive in silence-- music is an integral part of my driving experience. While there are tradeoffs, technology that alters our senses can positively impact our overall experience

    As driving experiences and personal choices widely vary, I do think it is necessary is to allow the user to adjust these settings.

    The article mentions that "the system can tap into an array of sensors in order to find out exactly what environment is best for your current state of mind, and if it needs to, it'll blast your nostrils with gusts of fresh forest in order to increase alertness while keeping stress levels down."

    Just as I wouldn't want my car "sensing" I’m angry and auto-playing something from the Osmonds, I wouldn't want my car spraying “fresh forest” over my ocean breeze.

    ReplyDelete

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