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My car, My office, My spa

Commuting is considered a burden by most people, but it can be an opportunity
Route 6, the trans-Israel highway (photo credit: Chen Leopold/Flash90)
Route 6, the trans-Israel highway (photo credit: Chen Leopold/Flash90)

How much do cars affect your health? The truth is that there is a long list of problems that cars cause. Since automobiles are an invaluable part of our day-to-day lives, we pretty much ignore all the downsides. But cars can be far more of a danger to our loved ones than many diseases and natural occurrences.

With the advent of the electric car, there is definitely a push towards a cleaner experience while driving. Driving itself might be fundamentally changed faster than most people imagine, with the advent of driverless car travel. If you combine all the smarts behind driverless driving with information from programs like Waze, you can dramatically reduce the effects of traffic, in terms of stress and time lost from an average day.

I was just reading an article in PC Magazine about the future of car driving.  Perhaps my vision of the future of cars is overly imaginative. But I hope you’ll agree with me that it has some merit.

What strikes me is that the focus of developers should be on repurposing the hours spent driving, especially when they are on a daily basis. I personally work from home. I have friends, though, who spend an hour to two hours a day going to and then back from work. To be blunt, all that time spent behind the wheel produces nothing but exhaust.

In the driverless world, the fundamental design of the internals of a car can be changed. Instead of a steering wheel and dashboard, this could be replaced with a large screen and fully interactive interface that allows for a complete computing experience. You could use this time to work remotely, engage in a hobby, surf the Internet, communicate with friends and loved ones – anything that you want.

Imagine repurposing two hours a day towards training in a whole new field. Online universities offer full curricula online. So, during a regular year of driving back and forth to work, you could earn an MBA and take that next step up the corporate ladder. Unquestionably, this time could be used for continuing medical education. Doctors are always saying that their time is horribly limited. This would be one way to recapture otherwise lost time.

In fact, with the right interface, a doctor could do far more than read a journal or listen to a lecture. A senior doctor could potentially participate in remote rounds all from a car of the future. Imagine physicians who are highly in demand being handed back an hour a day, in order to answer consults and even train other doctors. As EMRs become ubiquitous and ever more powerful, the entire doctor-patient experience could be shared between a patient, in a hospital bed or at home, and the doctor in a car.

What about people who never have time for a proper breakfast because they need to get going in order to drop off the kids and then get to work. There is absolutely no reason that the inside of a car could not include the basic accoutrements for preparing a meal. In fact, when 3-D printers are able to print out nutritious foods in any shape and with any texture we want, it will seem almost wasteful to have breakfast at home rather than in the car.

I must admit that there is one component that is missing from all of this. Considering how many activities someone might be involved in during a 1 to 2 hour drive, there may be a need for certain facilities. Thinking in 3-D, there is no inherent reason why a car could not be taller. Admittedly, this would increase drag and reduce energy efficiency. Having said this, it would be nice to know that even when you’re driving, you can still go, without having to pull over to the side of the road.

There will of course be those who see this as just another way to drain from us, every second of our waking day. Working and eating inside our driverless cars, will only extend our working day. Some would argue that this one hour of driving is the only time of the day when they can be alone, in their thoughts, away from everything [except traffic].

There is of course absolutely no reason why the internals of a car could not adjust to allow for a totally relaxing environment. There is technology that can change the transparency of windows. So the inside of the car turns dark, your favorite music automatically comes on, your seats folds back just like in first class on a plane, and your seat could also vibrate to provide you with an hour-long massage on your way to work.

There really is no limit to what you can do within the space of a car, if you are not required to personally direct it on the road. I think this will be a very positive change. But of course, it will be hard for me to judge since I rarely get into a car. What can I say – I love telecommuting.

Thanks for listening

About the Author
Dr. Nahum Kovalski received his bachelor's of science in computer science and his medical degree in Canada. He came to Israel in 1991 and married his wife of 22 years in 1992. He has 3 amazing children and has lived in Jerusalem since making Aliyah. Dr. Kovalski was with TEREM Emergency Medical Services for 21 years until June of 2014, and is now a private consultant on medicine and technology.
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