What Tech Will Become Instantly Useless Once Self-Driving Cars Are Popular?

October 6, 2016

9:15 am

Every major product has its own set of micro-niche products. Smartphones are a great example: They come with a vast variety of phone covers, phone chargers, and phone rests. But when a slightly larger version comes out, an entirely new set of covers springs into existence. Sometimes the change threatens to disrupt an entire company, as when payment processor Square needed to find a workaround for the iPhone 7, which is missing the headphone jack that Square’s dongle plugs into.

But the biggest shift in tech yet is on the way: Self-driving cars. Once the world makes the shift, an number of cutting-edge tech gadgets will be rendered utterly useless. You know, stuff like windshields. Steering wheels. The concept of cars as we know them.

Here’s a look at a few.

The Windshield HUD

A heads-up display, or HUD, is the term for any transparent display that transmits data to a pilot. Some futuristic ones exist today, like the product sold by San-Francisco-based startup Navdy: It’s a dashboard-mounted dock that holds an iPhone or Android phone. It then projects a cool six-inch-tall hologram to show you where to turn while also helping you make phone calls or text, all by pulling data from your phone.

Now imagine you have a self-driving car. You don’t need to navigate anywhere if your car knows where to turn all by itself. You might not even need a windshield.

Steering Wheel Grips

Those cool driving gloves? Totally unneeded once the steering wheel becomes a vestigial limb.

Audio Tech

Okay, even self-driving cars can’t kill audio tech entirely. But it will likely take a hit. Podcasts, for instance, see a substantial demographic in car-drivers looking for something to keep them occupied without taking their eyes off the road. People rely on audio-activated interfaces a lot while driving for the same reason. How much of a difference does driving make in these products? We’ll find out.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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