IMPORTANT: It's a Serious Matter of Life

Feature Bloat, The Chip Shortage and Cars

By: William Sikkens
Host, User Friendly 2.0 Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

Feature Bloat, The Chip Shortage and Cars

Feature Bloat in Cars. This is best defined as the tendency to equip new cars with as much technology as possible.  This has been driven by sales competition and many buyers' expectations to have these high-tech features.

The automotive industry has been trying to make your car a “smartphone on wheels”.  The idea is that if they can provide over the air updates and additional features you will continue to buy things after you bought your car.   This is working well as many people are paying out big bucks after purchasing their car.  This has been taken to the extent that some manufacturers are requiring additional payments to keep features working.  Tesla has been known to disable advanced features when a car is sold making the new buyer pay again to use them.  Toyota will be charging for features like remote start after the car is 10 years old.

But there is a hidden dilemma.  The problem is that all this requires chips.  And with chips in short supply cars can’t be manufactured.  As features and technology advance more chips are required.   Electric cars use many of these pieces of silicon.

Features we see now including premium sound, wireless charging and even things like heated seats may not be available.  This is due to the chip shortage.  All this and you might pay more than you would have before to even get a car.

At CES, Consumer Electronics Show, new car technology was presented this January in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Some new tech that was presented covered enhancements of safety devices, Android upgrades centered on improving automotive systems, the Hyundai PnD pod concept, and Gentex’s nanofiber sensing technology that can detect potentially harmful chemical compounds, but there were some new tech features that were really out there.  

So what are some of the new “over the top” features you might see soon on your next car?

How about…

 Augmented reality head-up displays with eye tracking?

3D Audio with 1,000 watt power and 25 speakers?  -  For anyone that’s not an audio engineer, 3D audio is the ability to manipulate sound in a space.   On a home theater this is nice because  sounds are based on what they would be in the real world.  Technologies like Dolby Atmos allow you place sounds above and below you.   But in a car - is this necessary? 

The ability to change the exterior color of your car from a switch inside?

Digital art canvas inside your car?

How about a rear 31-inch Theatre Screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV?

Heck, I’d just be happy with a navigation screen built into the dash.  But both BMW and Nissan have made that upgrade next to impossible.  Perhaps we should be using these chips for better fuel consumption than putting diamond earrings on a pig’s ear.



William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

Links and brand/store information provided are for information only and are not endorsed by Salem Media Group, KPAM or the show's hosts.  

Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw

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