If the vehicles don t make any sounds they can kill

This preview shows page 19 - 21 out of 21 pages.

the street while distracted. If the vehicles don t make any sounds, they can kill. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that pedestrians are considerably more likely to be hit by hybrid or electric vehicles than by those that have an internal combustion engine. The greatest danger is 158 The Design of Everyday Things when the hybrid or electric vehicles are moving slowly, when they are almost completely silent. The sounds of an automobile are important signifiers of its presence. Adding sound to a vehicle to warn pedestrians is not a new idea. For many years, commercial trucks and construction equipment have had to make beeping sounds when backing up. Horns are required by law, presumably so that drivers can use them to alert pedestrians and other drivers when the need arises, although they are often used as a way of venting anger and rage instead. But adding a continuous sound to a normal vehicle because it would otherwise be too quiet, is a challenge. What sound would you want? One group of blind people suggested putting some rocks into the hubcaps. I thought this was brilliant. The rocks would provide a natural set of cues, rich in meaning yet easy to interpret. The car would be quiet until the wheels started to turn. Then, the rocks would make natural, continuous
Image of page 19

Subscribe to view the full document.

scraping sounds at low speeds, change to the pitter-patter of falling stones at higher speeds, the frequency of the drops increasing with the speed of the car until the car was moving fast enough that the rocks would be frozen against the circumference of the rim, silent. Which is fine: the sounds are not needed for fast-moving vehicles because then the tire noise is audible. The lack of sound when the vehicle was not moving would be a problem, however. The marketing divisions of automobile manufacturers thought that the addition of artificial sounds would be a wonderful branding opportunity, so each car brand or model should have its own unique sound that captured just the car personality the brand wished to convey. Porsche added loudspeakers to its electric car prototype to give it the same throaty growl as its gasoline-powered cars. Nissan wondered whether a hybrid automobile should sound like tweeting birds. Some manufacturers thought all cars should sound the same, with standardized sounds and sound levels, making it easier for everyone to learn how to interpret them. Some blind people thought they should sound like cars you know, gasoline engines, following the old tradition that new technologies must always copy the old. four: Knowing What to Do: Constraints, Discoverability, and Feedback 159 Skeuomorphic is the technical term for incorporating old, familiar ideas into new technologies, even though they no longer play a functional role. Skeuomorphic designs are often comfortable for traditionalists, and indeed the history of technology shows that new technologies and materials often slavishly imitate the old for no apparent reason except that is what people know how to do. Early automobiles looked like horse-driven carriages without the horses (which is also why they were called horseless carriages); early plastics were designed to look like
Image of page 20
Image of page 21
  • Fall '19

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern

Ask Expert Tutors You can ask 0 bonus questions You can ask 0 questions (0 expire soon) You can ask 0 questions (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes