I was born in the last generation that will ever remember living in a world where computing was not ubiquitous.

A computer didn’t enter my household until I was 11 years old, and we located it on the desk in the corner of our basement. For many years, that’s where my computing experience was contained – if I wanted to do word processing or access the Internet to do research (OK, most of the time I was playing Quake), I had to sit at the desk in the basement. Now that limited access to computing seems

Brian Jackson, journalist
Brian Jackson

quaint.

I currently have three PCs in my apartment that serve different purposes, a laptop that I mostly keep at the office, and several other mobile devices. Now computing and the Internet is within arm’s length, if not on my person, nearly all the time. There is only one place that IT hasn’t yet become readily accessible in my life – in my ride. But with auto makers integrating more tech features into their new car models every year, that is about to change.

Related Feature: Technology on wheels at the Canadian International Auto Show

From Ford’s MyTouch powered by Microsoft Sync, to Kia’s Uvo voice-activated system, to Mercedes’ SplitView screen that offers different views to both the driver and the passenger one a single screen, there’s a lot of tech wooing drivers attention. Made to comply with hands-free driving legislation in place across many provinces and states, auto makers have created innovative user interfaces and drivers are getting used to the idea of having them in their cars.

ITBusiness.ca worked with Delvinia Interactive and its AskingCanadians panel to ask Canadians what tech they are currently using in their cars and what they they might use in the future. While most (62.4 per cent) still are like me, and drive tech-free rides, many are using IT products behind the wheel.

The most popular tech being used was GPS navigation (16.2 per cent) and Bluetooth connectivity (15.8 per cent). That makes sense, since drivers often have a need to know where they are going and to talk on the phone while staying safe and avoiding getting ticketed by police. Another nine per cent of Canadians have voice-activated features in their cars and six per cent have touch screen consoles.

Many more Canadians may soon have some more of these features in their cars. More than one-third say they would consider GPS navigation the most important technology to have in a car, while 17.5 per cent chose Bluetooth, and 11.2 per cent selected voice-activated features.

One out of five Canadians said that a vehicle’s technology features would be “a very important aspect of my decision” for the next vehicle they buy. Only one in 10 Canadians said technology would be “not at all important in my decision.”

This AskingCanadians poll of 1058 respondents was conducted for ITBusiness.ca.  The data was collected from March 10th to March 13th.

The poll indicates Canadians are warming up to the notion of using tech while we drive. Especially as auto makers make it more safe and more convenient to stay productive while we drive, it becomes an appealing feature for those who commute to work. The reality of many urban workers today is a lot of time sitting in traffic at snail’s pace – why not try to make the best use of that time?

Innovative technology features also show auto makers could continue to be on the cutting edge when it comes to debuting new technology interfaces to the public. Imagine how useful a GPS system would be if it took an augmented reality approach – overlaying directions and informational icons directly onto your windshield as you drove.

Such use of technology might seem futuristic now. But we’ve already come a long way from using that computer tucked away in a basement corner.

AskingCanadians is an online survey community with a panel of more than 160,000 members across Canada. Joining the AskingCanadians panel is free to Canadians who are in the age of majority in the provinces they reside, or have the permission of their parents or legal guardian. Qu’en pensez-vous is the sister community in Quebec.  AskingCanadians is owned and operated by Delvinia Data Collection for more information go to http://www.delvinia.com/askingcanadians.

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