2017-02-09 / Viewpoint

Sound effects for cars – I can come up with a few

Gary Gould — Managing Editor Gary Gould — Managing Editor I caught a segment on a recent national news broadcast which talked about how creating sounds effects for cars – you know, the bells and whistles – has become a major part of new car design. Ford Motors Company, in fact, has an engineer who develops many of those noises you hear in today’s cars. Apparently it is a full-time job.

As I listened to the report, I started thinking cars need more than a dinging sound when the key is left in the ignition, or when the gas is low or when the trunk is left open. If cars are going to become these marvels of technology, then here’s a thought – why not make them talk?

I’m not talking like KITT from Knight Rider, riding around with The Hoff behind the wheel, catching bad guys and solving crimes.

What I’d like to see is cars that speak to you and tell you when something requires your attention. Even better would be a car that tells other drivers when they’re tailgating, driving too fast or just being a general nuisance.

Here’s a few examples:

How about a voice that yells at you if you’re driving too close to the car ahead of you. Like, “Hey, Speed Racer, why don’t you back off that guy a little bit!”

Or a voice that reminds you when it’s time for an oil change: “Guess what? You’re going to need to get that oil changed soon, before you seize the engine on your vehicle and have to pay thousands to fix it.”

Maybe something you can use with a loud speaker outside the car to tell others when they’re driving dumb: “Why don’t you put the cellphone down and quit texting while you’re driving there, champ!” Or, “Hey, put those kids in car seats, your back seat is not a bounce house.” When you see those kids standing on the side of the road with rocks in their hands, waiting to throw them at the next passing car, the speaker could be used to send them a gentle reminder not to get any ideas. “Hey you little punks! Beat it!

I know your parents and they aren’t going to be happy when they get the repair bill for my car!” It is interesting how automobile technology has become so advanced, not just with the sounds our cars make, but other things they can do now.

I leased a new car this past summer and it came with all the proverbial bells and whistles. I didn’t necessarily want or need these amenities, they came as part of the deal and I’m still trying to learn how to work them all.

So while voice sound effects in cars might be a bit outlandish, we are seeing cars becoming more and more sophisticated every year. They can link with cellphones, they have wi-fi, satellite radio, back-up camera – and before long they’ll have cars and trucks that drive themselves.

Technology is fine, but hopefully we don’t let it take the enjoyment and freedom of getting behind the wheel of a car and driving the open road. ggould@mihomepaper.com

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