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Science Technology

Blue Lights To Reset Internal Clocks 332

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can-sleep-when-you-are-dead dept.
holy_calamity writes "Researchers at RPI are testing the effects of putting blue LEDs inside cars to keep drivers alert. People driving through the night are much more likely to cause accidents because our circadian rhythms just want to sleep — blue light at around 450nm wavelength can fool them into thinking it's morning and keep them awake."
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Blue Lights To Reset Internal Clocks

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  • by Mirzabah (866477) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:29AM (#22804034) Homepage
    .. there really is justification for people pimpin' their rides????
  • Thank You for your cooperation.
  • by threephaseboy (215589) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:33AM (#22804050) Homepage

    "blue light at around 450nm wavelength can fool them into thinking its morning and keep us awake."

    I'm rarely awake before 2pm, you insensitive clod!
  • by TibbonZero (571809) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <nobbiT>> on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:38AM (#22804060) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I know there are times that we've all had to drive with less sleep than we should have... but is this a good answer?
    To me it would seem to inspire false confidence on the part of the driver, where they might think that they could stay up and not have to worry about falling asleep driving since they had their blue lights blinking or whatever.

    I'm thinking that the real solution is making people in the public more aware of the dangers of driving with too little sleep. Everyone knows they shouldn't drink and drive (yet many still do) but not enough people realize how dangerous driving when tired is.

    Most of all, i hope they don't put these in 18-wheelers are another way to squeeze yet more driving time out of the guys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515) *
      Driving is dangerous.

      When you get into a car you take your life in your hands. Everyone should know this.

      We accept the dangerous because the convenience is worth it.
      • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:23AM (#22804194) Homepage
        So? Some activities make driving safer, some make it more dangerous. Nobody is disputing that driving is dangerous. Driving while intoxicated is more dangerous than driving while sober. Driving while talking on a cell is more dangerous than driving while paying attention. Driving while tired is more dangerous than driving while alert. Everyone understands the danger vs. utility aspect of driving. But there is no reason to exacerbate the danger.

        As for blue lights in the car, I think it's potentially a bad idea. Blue light makes it hard to see in the dark. Red light doesn't affect night vision so much. Besides, I F*#$ing sick of all the blue lights gratuitously stuck all over the place -- like in the front of an otherwise nice quality DVD player. I'm sick of having to tape over blue lights or prop up DVD covers to right this idiocy about bright blue light.

        And as for drivers with those ultra-blue blinding lights, I want to build an auto-tracking fully automatic BB gun (everyone knows driving is dangerous -- anyone remember Deathtrack from the bad old DOS days? loved that game).
        • by fractoid (1076465) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @03:16AM (#22804390) Homepage

          Besides, I F*#$ing sick of all the blue lights gratuitously stuck all over the place -- like in the front of an otherwise nice quality DVD player. I'm sick of having to tape over blue lights or prop up DVD covers to right this idiocy about bright blue light.
          I think a lot of the problem here is that most blue LEDs used are ultrabright models that can comfortably if dimly illuminate a whole mid-sized room, and are far overkill for simply indicating power or status. Designers just whack 'em in because they're the first ones they come across in the catalogue.

          Reminds me of that story a while back where they found out that keyboard indicators for caps/num/scroll lock were bright enough to semaphore a message out of a server room and down the hall.
        • by CdBee (742846) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @06:43AM (#22805004)
          "When driving after 18 hours awake you have the concentration of someone who's hovering around the UK drink-drive limit. If you drive after you've been awake for 24 hours, you have the same concentration level as someone who's downed half a bottle of Scotch" - Jeremy Clarkson
        • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @07:10AM (#22805108) Homepage
          Everyone understands the danger vs. utility aspect of driving.

          you are giving the general populace WAYYYY too much credit. Back when I was a Emergency responder the #1 cause in a crash was people not paying attention. Many times was some moron trying to grab a CD case or other item from the passenger side floor while driving. Others were women putting on makeup, men shaving, etc... From my experience in college with dealing with crashes first hand, Most people do not know that when they take their attention from the road it's dangerous as hell. One did not think turning the wheel, if she was not looking out the window, would turn the car!

          The number of incredibly stupid people out there is increasing at an alarming rate. This past winter I watched a guy lose it on the highway 1/2 a mile up. the snow plume from him hitting the bridge embankment was huge. so I got over and started to slow down. the guy next to me who was looking out the same clear highway and who saw the same thing did not slow down like I did. He ended up as a secondary collision. When I asked him, "Didnt you see it happen?" he said yes, but was in a hurry and though he could make it around him.

          That's plain old, full on stupid right there.
        • by salec (791463) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @08:04AM (#22805408)

          As for blue lights in the car, I think it's potentially a bad idea. Blue light makes it hard to see in the dark.
          I have noticed that most people, myself included, cannot focus their vision on "deep blue" (sapphire blue) glowing signs at night, those remain "fuzzy" no matter how hard you concentrate. Making any displays but the simplest indicator lamps with blue LEDs is ridiculous. However, as long as you give up trying to read them and ignore them, they don't affect seeing other object in your visual field. "Nixie tube blue" (light blue, aquamarine blue) is definitely easier on eyes... and it is also more similar to "morning sky blue", but I am yet to see such LEDs.
          • I have noticed that most people, myself included, cannot focus their vision on "deep blue" (sapphire blue) glowing signs at night, those remain "fuzzy" no matter how hard you concentrate.

            That's mainly because the layout of the eye's cones (the color receptors) is a sparse hexagonal array of blue sensors filled in with a randomly-blotchy sea of red and green sensors. The blue image is lower resolution than the red, green, or black-and-white. (I'm not sure if there's also an issue with chromatic aberration
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ShatteredArm (1123533)

          And as for drivers with those ultra-blue blinding lights, I want to build an auto-tracking fully automatic BB gun (everyone knows driving is dangerous -- anyone remember Deathtrack from the bad old DOS days? loved that game).

          Gah! I hate those blasted bright headlights! Here's a tip for you: If the car in front of you actually casts a shadow when its own headlights are on, your headlights may be too bright. These should be illegal--they're a complete safety hazard.

      • by epine (68316) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @06:02AM (#22804888)

        We accept the dangerous because the convenience is worth it.

        I remember back when I played Quake II a lot, I would see a lot of things on the road that would cause a neural reflect to tap the "7" key IIRC which selected the rocket launcher. We "accept" the dangers created by the stupidity of those around us because government heavily repress our primal responses. Man, if I ever became the overlord at the DMV, things would be different.

        That includes those people who think that driving at 50kph over the speed limit entitles them to private use of the inside lane. Look at me, I'm doing 160 in a 110 zone, everybody F'ing pull into the right lane like this is my private German autobahn or I'm going to hang inches behind your bumper pulsing my halogen highbeams like a prolapsed hemorrhoid. I don't feel myself radiating "acceptance", toward your average MF POS.

        If you are decoding my driving behaviour as "acceptance" your powers of perception are extremely dim. The things some people do on the highway done in a wolf pack would see your liver served up as communal pate. Now and then a few aggressive bumper humpers hung from the signage scaffolds would soon set things right. To properly designate the offense, the bumper humpers could be hung with their pants around their ankles. Is Spitzer's wife known to be in the vicinity? No? That must have been another bumper humper. I'm digging, digging, digging and not finding this "acceptance" whereof you speak within myself.

        Back to the subject at hand, I actually *have* non-24 hour sleep-wake disorder, and I can tell you that blue light does not function as described in any research I've seen.

        Both melatonin and blue light have phase response curves with a fixed phase relationship to your daily body temp. min., that varies somewhat from one person to the next. For most people daily min. occurs somewhere around 05:00. A sleep study which captures this marker involves finding subjects willing (and able) to sleep wired up with rectal thermometers. For improved subject comfort, most sleep studies use DLMO (dim light melatonin offset) as a proxy marker instead. This occurs in the mid evening, and is marked by the first detectable increase of melatonin concentration in saliva (which doesn't occur if the eyes are exposed to bright light).

        Blue light exposure in the early morning in the hour *before* your natural rising time will advance your cycle (earlier rising time). Blue light in the evening will delay your cycle (later rising time). To maintain a 24-hour sleep cycle, I require melatonin in the late afternoon and blue light on waking.

        As a side note, the neurons in the retina that detect this blue light and signal phase change to the SCN are independent of the optical neurons. Some blind people retain this sensitivity, some don't (e.g. complete retinal loss). The blind people without this retinal sensitivity often suffer from non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder.

        Both the existence of this retinal cell population and the phase response curves are fairly recent discoveries. I've only been able to successfully treat my condition for a year now (no help from my doctors, I ended up finding the research myself). Prior to that, was two decades where my body clock delayed an average of 1h15 per day. Internally, I was living on Mars time.

        Subjectively, trying to live in day mode while my body wasn't was *exactly* the same as discovering each day that you are now experiencing an extra hour of jet lag as compared to the day before.

        Imagine the suckiest jet lag you've ever experienced knowing the next day it will only get one hour worse, and this will continue for weeks. I would eventually reach the point of total circadian insanity, have a waking period 26 to 28 hours long, sleep for 12 to 16 hours, and wake up feeling great again. The funny thing about those long waking periods: I could code 26 hours straight and not suffer any diminishment in my vigilance contrary to most research (I have

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          That includes those people who think that driving at 50kph over the speed limit entitles them to private use of the inside lane. Look at me, I'm doing 160 in a 110 zone, everybody F'ing pull into the right lane like this is my private German autobahn or I'm going to hang inches behind your bumper pulsing my halogen highbeams like a prolapsed hemorrhoid. I don't feel myself radiating "acceptance", toward your average MF POS.

          In most civilized countries the "inside" lane is for overtaking.. people who do less than speed limit in it are just slowing up the traffic.

    • by Vskye (9079) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:33AM (#22804238)

      Most of all, i hope they don't put these in 18-wheelers are another way to squeeze yet more driving time out of the guys.
      First off, your comment deems that you have never driven a 18-wheeler, Most company's back in the day taught you how to cheat on your log books so you can drive more than 500 miles a day. The first day I was hired, they taught me all of this. They push your ass to drive, and if you don't produce they fire your ass. Some good companies are not this way, granted... but to generalize this isn't a good thing. Ever drive 10 hours, then have to unload a 48' trailer by hand and then pick up a load and get sleep? It's a PITA, and that's why I don't do it anymore. And no, I've never crashed my truck.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yurivr (1252248)
      I agree. But what about emergency situations or military applications? Seems like you could build these right into a HUD in situations where you need to be extra toasty. Day to day, if this takes off it will cause at least as many accidents as it resolves. Your bioclock exists for a reason. I visited St. Petersburg a few years back and experienced 3 weeks of "white nights." I got headaches, nausea and dizzyness after a few days. By the time I got used to it there was night again. It's never about the id
    • by timeOday (582209)

      To me it would seem to inspire false confidence on the part of the driver, where they might think that they could stay up and not have to worry about falling asleep driving since they had their blue lights blinking or whatever.
      Sounds like we'd better remove airbags, seatbelts, crumple zones, and antilock brakes too. Wouldn't want to inspire false confidence.
    • by rolfc (842110)
      "I'm thinking that the real solution is making people in the public more aware of the dangers of driving with too little sleep. Everyone knows they shouldn't drink and drive (yet many still do) but not enough people realize how dangerous driving when tired is."

      Yes, you are right of course. When I drive across Europe, I always make sure that I sleep enough, But, you know how many there are that klick on every link in the mail when they really should know better. You have to look at it at a anti-virus prog
    • My dash is blue. My stereo is blue. The blue lights, they do nothing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      "Nearly 30% of all fatal accidents involving large trucks in the US happen during the hours of darkness"

      Hmm, I think they should rather work on the 70% of accidents that happen during the day.
  • For me, when I start to see the blue light is when I normally GO to sleep.
  • I have found that soft red light used to illuminate my dash certainly doesn't keep me awake. Maybe a brilliant electric blue would at least keep me more awake. Whether it "simulates morning" or if it's simply brighter/more intense, as long as it works is all that I care about.
    • by Gromius (677157) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:34AM (#22804242)
      Same here, red lights dont keep me awake, neither do blue lights on their own. However I've always found that turning on a flashing red and blue light behind me will instantly make me awake and fully alert,no matter what. The effect is amazing :)
  • I know bright light can certainly do that. I was working as an extra on a movie night shoot. They had banks of thousand Watt lights all over. I was up till dawn but never felt drowsy at all.
  • by Buran (150348) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:42AM (#22804076)
    Interesting. VW uses this wavelength for its gauge lighting in most of its cars. I always thought it was for looks (as the red/blue combo does look pretty good). Perhaps the blue was chosen to help enhance nighttime alertness as well.
    • by Trogre (513942) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:00AM (#22804134) Homepage
      Possibly, though I would still think it a poor choice for lighting instruments. Blue does not focus on the retina very well (requiring more time with eyes off the road to read), and IIRC stimulates rod cells in the eye, reducing night vision.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Wordplay (54438)
      My Hyundai uses the same lighting as VW. I've not noticed a difference, but I turn it down to near-minimum to keep glare low at night. There's also the fact that I'm used to sleeping in the light of blue LEDs--my clock radio uses them, and my computer setup in the bedroom is rife with peripherals that glow blue since the color became trendy amongst the gamer/mod set.

      I also don't have a good concept of how bright these LEDs need to be to be effective. TFA says he's testing 2.5, 5, and 7.5 lux lights. Wik
    • by zazzel (98233) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:25AM (#22804202)
      I don't know if VW used the fact for their marketing elsewhere, but I remember hearing exactly this reason from their German marketing dept. when the blue light was first introduced somewhere in 1997.
    • I was thinking the same thing. I've always prefered the blue used in VW's to the red used in many other cars. I do a lot of night driving, so maybe my subconscious somehow knew and hence prefered the blue.

      Interesting.
  • Oh yes (Score:2, Funny)

    by katterjohn (726348)
    "blue light at around 450nm wavelength can fool them into thinking its morning and keep us awake"

    I need to install one of these on top of my monitor!
  • Is the light going to reduce night vision? Will we end up with aware drivers seeing less? Perhaps if we knew how bright the light had to be, we could tell.
  • Jokes?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AmigaHeretic (991368) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:46AM (#22804088) Journal
    Q: How many New Yorkers does it take to screw in a "blue" light bulb?

    A: None 'o yo' fuckin' business!

    Q: How many software people does it take to screw in a "blue" light bulb?

    A: None. That's a hardware problem.

    Q: How many televangelists does it take to screw in a "blue" light bulb?

    A: None. Televangelists screw in motels.

    Q: How many straight San Franciscans does it take to screw in a "blue" light bulb?

    A: Both of them.

  • A third of accidents (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lachlan76 (770870)
    Is it really unusual for a third of accidents to happen at night? Sounds about the proportion of the day that's spent in darkness.
    • by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:50AM (#22804100)
      Considering that vastly less people are on the road at night, it's disproportionate.
      • by SeaFox (739806)
        Go to an entertainment district of a major city on a Summer Friday night, and you will find as many if not more cars in it that in the day. Add to that people are much more likely to be drinking and driving...
        • Go to an entertainment district of a major city on a Summer Friday night, and you will find as many if not more cars in it that in the day.

          Summer (1/4 of the year) * Friday (1/7 of the week) * night (1/2 of the day) = 1/56th of the year. Multiply that to the size of an entertainment district, which despite being called an "entertainment quarter" usually makes up a tiny fraction of a sprawling metropolis of dormitory suburbs and industrial areas. If this made up 1/3rd of all road use, I'd be very surprise

  • Doping (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:55AM (#22804112) Homepage
    That's like doping in sports: you don't realize you're destroying your body, and after prolonged use you end up in a wheelchair. I wouldn't be surprised to see the number of nightly accidents go up in the long run when the blue lights are introduced.
  • This must be why, in recent years, I have felt increasingly alert upon entering my server room.

    And here I was thinking all those PC, external hard drive, UPS and KVM (?!) makers were just being vindictive.

  • by ChePibe (882378) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:59AM (#22804120)
    How soon until they can put this in textbooks? Now that would be handy...
    • I'd install one on the wife's forehead, but then I'd miss out on my power-nap after performing the ritual "how was your day" question.
  • Red+Blue (Score:5, Funny)

    by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:59AM (#22804122)
    I find a flashing blue light in the rear view mirror certainly wakes me up.

    Seriously though, it would be better to just not drive when tired. Also wouldn't screwing around with your internal body clock mess you up more?
    • A lot of us don't have seventy-five bucks for a hotel room. I know that doesn't sound like a lot of money, heck it's barely dinner for 2 - but seriously, there are people out there to whom it's a lot.
      • You've never slept in your car on a long trip? Those rest stops on highways are handy, at least for a half-hour catnap when you're feeling drowsy.
      • You don't need to get a hotel room. If your tired even a 15 minute nap in your car (while it is stopped) would be enough to continue driving for a while.

        I've fallen asleep while driving. Thankfully at a red light while stationary. Prior to getting to that light I had the window open, music blaring and keep trying to keep myself aware that I should stay awake. Once I stopped at the lights I had relaxed a bit and fell asleep. Person behind me woke me up but after that I realised how easy it was to just switch
  • It's going to take more than a blinking LED to convince my body that I haven't worked a double-shift at 7-11.
  • by zakezuke (229119) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:14AM (#22804178)
    I'm not going to discount the possible correlation between certain wavelengths and sensing it's daylight. But it sounds problematic to me. One blue LED has amazing illumination power, so not only will it likely affect your night vision but it will illuminate all the flaws in your windscreen, as well as enhance the reflection of your self.

    Those of us unfortunate enough to buy hardware with blue leds on it can share this fact, it's damned annoying.
    • by jrumney (197329) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:35AM (#22804636) Homepage

      Those of us unfortunate enough to buy hardware with blue leds on it can share this fact, it's damned annoying.

      Visitors often ask me why my near new A/V equipment is in much worse condition than the older stuff. They think the black insulation tape I've got plastered all over the front is holding it together. It's really just there to block the annoying blue lights from burning holes in my retina while I'm trying to watch TV.

  • by Zadaz (950521) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:35AM (#22804246)
    The only problem is that blue light ruins your night vision, which would conceivably cause more accidents.
  • If you're tired just find a motel and go to fucking sleep!
  • by spazmonkey (920425) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:43AM (#22804278)
    Blue wavelengths also have the nasty side effect of destroying night vision almost instantly, fooling the pupils to contract - likely for the very same reason it fools the rest of the body into thinking its daylight too.

    Not a desirable or safe side effect when making something specifically intended to be used for driving in the dark. It's why the military uses red lights in their vehicle cabins and cockpits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oPless (63249)
      Yes,
      I agree totally here! Furthermore, there's a worrying increase (on UK roads at least) headlamps with a *nasty* blue tint to them. I've no idea what they're called but they *really* screw with my eyes, mostly on BMWs and boy racers. Night vision gets all messed up and there's noticeable scarring (after image) - anyone know what the bulbs are?

      I've recently noticed a second set of headlight bulbs, loved by boy racers also - they're also really screwy with your eyes. They're yellow-ish, and if you've got on
      • Well, there are HID bulbs, which, if they're OEM, should be more white than blue, and should be properly aimed.

        Then there's the aftermarket HID kits, which are often blue. And, there's the blue-coated bulbs, to make people think you've got HIDs when you don't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by inviolet (797804)

        Yes, I agree totally here! Furthermore, there's a worrying increase (on UK roads at least) headlamps with a *nasty* blue tint to them. I've no idea what they're called but they *really* screw with my eyes, mostly on BMWs and boy racers. Night vision gets all messed up and there's noticeable scarring (after image) - anyone know what the bulbs are?

        The nasty headlighteseseses, it burns!

  • Sorry for the title but I get annoyed with the constant announcements by these annoying little companies that they have made a wonderful breakthough in technology for all of us when, in reality, it's a few neanderthals amongst the entire human race who are too stupid to work out for themselves that the contents of a polystyrene cup might be hot or that when you're tired you probably shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car...

    Perhaps I should email that company with a question to see what response I get:

    "S

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      My car turns on the lights automatically when it turns dark, or when I drive into a tunnel. A few people forget to do this. If for some reason ambient light in the tunnel is sufficient to not trigger those lights, yet still low enough to require them, *I* am responsible for the decrease in safety. That does not invalidate the feature; it's a convenience.

      The luxury model of this car (which I don't have) has Lane Departure Warning System. Checks the road markings. If you're crossing lanes on a highway without
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by pandrijeczko (588093)
        My car turns on the lights automatically when it turns dark, or when I drive into a tunnel.

        I find the "darkness detection system" between my eyes and brain and my "switch the headlights on" system between my brain and hands works pretty well for entering a tunnel also.

        That does not invalidate the feature; it's a convenience.

        It invalidates the feature for me since I have no need for it. Neither is it a convenience because I have no need of it.

        The luxury model of this car (which I don't have) has Lane

  • Now I can proportion blame for all hte times I couldn't get to sleep. It was Dell's fault for putting blue LEDs on my laptop and charger which sit on the desk in my bedroom. Bastards ruined my sleep patterns.
  • At last, a foolproof way to stay awake during lectures.
  • How long until our brain gets used to this signal just being that "blue widget" again and starts filtering it out?

    You can't fool yourself for too long.
    • FTA:
      "Nearly 30% of all fatal accidents involving large trucks in the US happen during the hours of darkness"
      So, 70% of accidents still occur during the day.

      There's a reason trucks drive at night: it's when there are no cars on the road. No soccer moms riding the left lane under the speed limit, no kids blitzing through traffic. A large number of truckers prefer night driving; I'm actually surprised there aren't MORE accidents at night.

      Cool tech, but I hate when they throw in useless statistics to try and j
  • Is that way MS initially put blue background into their "business oriented" w2k desktop, to keep those overworked drones awake? :p

    For some reason Apple gave up on blue in latest OS X...oh, and blue is sort of default for KDE...hmmm
  • How it works (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @05:28AM (#22804794)
    Light, in general, suppresses the production of melatonin by the retina, and melatonin plays a role in maintaining circadian rhythms. Higher levels of melatonin make you more sleepy, which is why melatonin is sold OTC as a sleep aid.

    One of the treatments for some sleep disorders is called "light therapy", and involves having a fairly bright light in view for about an hour after you wake up. This inhibits melatonin production and resets the circadian cycle to keep that as your wake-up time (which also places your go-to-sleep time at an appropriate time of day). Recent studies indicate that the suppression of melatonin production peaks around 450nm, so a blue light around that wavelength is far more effective per lumen than broad-spectrum light.

    So, if you're a person who does a lot of night driving (you work the night shift, you drive trucks at night, etc.), this is great for you, because you can get by with a much dimmer light, perhaps even one in the vehicle while you're driving. If you just need this for one or two nights, you're a bit likely to give yourself jet lag by screwing up your sleep schedule.
  • So the answer to sleep deprevation is to extend sleep deprevation? Brilliant (not). Those truckers that already spend 12 to 18 hours on the road may now be spending even longer periods thanks to blue light science. Hmmm...what could possibly go wrong?
  • sorry, had to.
  • by MarkKnopfler (472229) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @07:57AM (#22805350)
    I thought that we had hit the pits with Toyota's MAINT REQUIRED flashing LED on the dashboard. It undoubtedly was the dumbest piece of instrumentation I had ever seen. Let me explain -- The flashing of this led has nothing to do with the mechanical state of the car. Nope, no instrumentation connected to that LED except a timer. Reset it buy pressing a few buttons here and there and you dont need MAINT ! Then it got worse. BMW comes up with a even lousier idea -- If your car changes lanes, and you dont have the blinker on, the steering wheel vibrates ! And now this. In all honesty, the mind bleeds.
    Guys, if you want to _really_ make better cars give us more muscle, smoother gearboxes, better crash safety and mileage. Also, do not cover up lack of innovation with eye-candy. Please leave the driving to the customer.

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