New Ford app aids driving while shopping
Ford thinks you need more distractions while driving, as with a push notices about a sale on fireplace tongs. Sarah Butzen and her life coach beg to differ.
Posted August 22, 2012
By SARAH BUTZEN, EVERGEEK MEDIA
Great news, everyone! You can call your life coaches and tell them they're fired. I just got off the phone with mine, and boy did it feel good. Bet she feels pretty dumb now about keeping me on the bench all season.
I owe my emancipation, as I owe so much, to - who else? - Ford! I had three problems, all of which Ford has now solved. They were, in no particular order:
1) I didn't have enough stuff.
2) I had no way of being alerted to opportunities of obtaining more stuff.
3) I had nothing whatsoever to do while driving. I mean, I'd control the vehicle, observe the cars around me, mind my route, watch my speed, text, write emails, discipline my children, argue with my spouse, make coffee, eat lunch, apply mascara, knit, and do macramé, but other than that I had nothing to do.
Well, that three-pronged nightmare is over, thanks to the new Ford product ROXIMITY. (No, it doesn't stand for anything, why? Oh, the capitalization... okay then, it stands for Real-time Operationalized eXtreme Information Management Integration conTraption, Y'all!) What is ROXIMITY? It's a new app for iOS devices that's compatible with (and was sponsored by) Ford's SYNC (Streamline Your Noise, in-Car) AppLink. It's a "personalized daily deal location service" that alerts you to any special deals in your vicinity on... whatever the heck you want to buy. You can set it up with your preferences and it will send you push notifications whenever you drive by a deal on anything you're interested in.
It also uses voice control, so you can just ask it to find the nearby deals on whatever you need at the moment.
Suppose you're out and about driving around with no particular place you need to be at any particular time, as so often happens. Suddenly you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and say, "Whoa! When's the last time I had my pores antioxidated?" But you don't want to pay full price for to get your pores done, like some kind of rube, so you say "Computer! Find me a spa, posthaste!" (You don't have to say it like that, but it would be cool if you did.) And ROXIMITY spits out a list of all the spas within a radius of quasi-convenience that are having specials on pores. Not sure if you can even program it so it knows that last time you got the mud so this time you need the sea salt, but, if not, it's pretty much useless, so I assume that's in there.
I know what you're thinking. This product is so perfect, so completely what the human race needed - how on earth did it come to be? Usually something so exquisite and beautiful would be crushed in its infancy by this harsh and joyless world we live in. But this baby received a little early nurturing - from Ford, of all places! ROXIMITY was discovered at the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. It won - not one of the six finishing spots, but the Ford SYNC App Developer Challenge.
Apparently the developers had just "a seed of an idea scribbled in a notebook" - but then they noticed that Ford was a major sponsor of the Hackathon, Ford was looking for the next big thing, and everything just fell into place. I'm sorry, but this story seems highly implausible to me. "Scribbled in a notebook?" Please. It's supposed to be the back of an envelope, or a cocktail napkin. In a pinch, someone's shirt sleeve. Geniuses never use real paper. Everyone knows that.
Anyway, I have no doubt that if I were ever to actually use this thing, I'd become addicted to it in less than twenty-four hours. I'd just drive around all day and night finding deals. I would be financially ruined in less than a week. That's usually the case when I rip on something: I mock what I fear and do not understand. But there are a few chilling themes at work in the press release that aren't just the snark at work - they actually are genuinely chilling, to me at least.
The first is that this app is supposed to "improve a consumer's time behind the wheel." You see, this was my fear when Ford started to go all voice-control on us. The assumption here is that interacting with gadgetry is perfectly safe as long you aren't using your eyes or hands to do it. And maybe that's so. But I do not want, on the strength of "maybe," to be on the road with a bunch of clowns whose minds are on $50 drawer pulls from Restoration Hardware - available today for only $47, or $93.50 for two! What if they get so excited they pull a U-turn right in front of me?
Hey, that gives me an idea! They should link up ROXIMITY with the GIS system AND with the driving assist programs - but have a special voice that jumps in and takes over to get you to the ROXIMITY deal. "Oh my God! Drawer pulls! Sconces! Fireplace tongs! Pull in here, quick - you've got time, that truck is yards away. No, really, this parking lot connects in the back, I know a guy who works here. Now cut over there - I know it says "loading zone" but that's just to discourage riff-raff - YES YOU SHOULD CUT HER OFF, ALL THE SCONCES WILL BE GONE!"
In the future, I imagine, ROXIMITY will just read you a list of deals, and the car's brain scanner will determine which one you respond to with the most interest. The car's self-driving program will then activate and will take you directly to the establishment in question. It will use your credit card to pay for it before you even get there. Perhaps there will even be an app that will take the thing home for you and enjoy it for you, maybe snuggle up on the couch with your honey for you and talk about the awesome new thing ROXIMITY and Ford just got for you.
Uh, Coach? I may have been a bit hasty just now.