Environment Transportation Turn Your Car Into Your Office With a Skype-Equipped BMW By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated October 11, 2018 ©. Microsoft Share Twitter Pinterest Email Transportation Automotive Active Aviation Public Transportation This truly is just what we needed. We live on Skype at TreeHugger; it is our virtual water cooler, where I rant about distracted walkers and people crossing the street while wearing headphones. So imagine my joy at learning from Bob Gunderson that Microsoft, the owner of Skype, will build it into my next BMW. Being an undistinguished architect, I was thrilled to read a blog post by Ulrich Homann, Distinguished Architect, Cloud + Enterprise, about how BMW is working with Microsoft “to create an even more productive ride.” In today’s always-on culture, people need to be productive from anywhere – including their cars. Commute times are reaching record highs and people work from a variety of locations. This means that people need a way to capitalize on time spent in their cars. At Microsoft, we believe that cars should be more than just a ride, and also be a personal office on wheels, helping people be productive and giving them time back to enjoy their lives. YES! Now I can be productive in my car, although often my editor drones on in Skype meetings to the point that I am falling asleep at my standing desk; perhaps the extra frisson of driving my exciting and fast Beemer at the same time would help keep me awake. And of course I can multi-task, drive and participate in a meeting at the same time, even though a recent study found that hands-free conversations were pretty much as bad as holding the phone: It appears that the increased brain power required to hold a phone conversation can alter a drivers’ visual scanning pattern. In other words the human brain compensates for receiving increased information from a mobile phone conversation by not sending some visual information to the working memory, leading to a tendency to ‘look at’ but not ‘see’ objects by distracted drivers. In an earlier post asking how can we design cars to reduce distracted driving? I suggested that car makers should stop designing cars like moving living rooms; now they are turning into moving offices. BMW never surprises me, but Microsoft should know better. © Steven M. Johnson The mobile office in your car has changed so much since Steven M. Johnson imagined it in 1990. He expected that people would work at the roadside or during traffic tie-ups. Now, thanks to Microsoft and BMW, we can be productive all the time. And Bob Gunderson is absolutely right; the next time a driver complains about distracted pedestrians or cyclists, I will point them to this.