KISS is an acronym for "Keep it simple, stupid" as a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. (Source: Wikipedia)

For some time now I've been ranting about all the "Nanny tech" and complicated controls on today's vehicles. 

Since the advent of built in GPS systems auto makers have decided to use the GPS screen for other uses. Now on many vehicles that screen controls everything - climate control, sound system, vehicle info - you name it. Some systems are relatively easy to use; others are not.

The problem from my perspective is that often to change systems (like going from the climate control to the sound system) requires you to consciously look at the screen. On some vehicles it is a touch screen; others have buttons or knobs that are somewhere else. 

To be fair many vehicles have voice controls. Push a button (usually on the steering wheel) and say clearly what you want to do and it shall be done - Maybe. I've always had trouble with voice control, heck I have trouble with Siri on my iPhone at times.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against technology as long as it works and doesn't get in my way. The idea of voice control is great but it doesn't always work. 

The same goes for the Nanny tech. You know, all that stuff that is supposed to keep you from killing yourself and others. Anything that saves lives is great right? Not always (no I am not advocating euthanasia). I think that maybe some of the Nanny tech gives a false sense of safety. People now depend on the car to warn them of impending doom instead of their own senses.

I'll give you an example. I recently drove a Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid. It was a very nice car. One of the systems, something that is on many new cars, was a smart cruise control. You set the cruise and the car maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. The driver can adjust the distance between vehicles or turn it off. 

Some cars, including the Optima, also have self-braking. The car senses that the vehicle in front is slowing down and it also slows down; it will even come to a complete stop. I became too used to it and almost rear-ended someone because it wouldn't stop quick enough. I made two errors; I had adjusted the distance between the Optima and the car in front to the shortest and I allowed myself to be lulled into depending on the Optima to do my job. Thankfully I was able to stop the Optima before it hit the car in front of me but I definitely looked like an idiot (tires screeching).

So getting back to Keep It Simple, Stupid, the technology is great but in too many cases the tech runs us instead of vice versa. Way back in the Stone Age if you wanted to change the radio station you knew where the buttons and knobs where, you didn't need to look. Same with the heater controls. You just reached out and there they were, your eyes never had to leave the road. 

So let's keep it simple, or at least seem simple. Let the tech work in the background. Let us concentrate on the drive.


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