By now, many of you probably know that a couple of Googler's have been working on a rather interesting "20% project". Nat and Lo have been going around Google and basically exploring things that they are curious about. One of those things happens to be Android Auto's research lab. Android Auto was announced at Google I/O 2014, and it's essentially a way for you to use Android in the car without using your phone. Apps that are compatible are put into containers that work better on the display in the vehicle, and each app provides a similar experience, with the only main difference being the colors used in the app. Android Auto is available on over 100 different models, and we've had the chance to review a few of them. But how does the team test out potential changes to Android Auto?
In the research lab, Nat and Lo find out that there is a whole lot of research done with Android Auto, before any changes take place in the UI. The reasoning for this is to keep your eyes on the road as much as possible, and research helps them test changes without putting people's lives in danger. The team is testing for three main types of distractions when driving. These include visual, cognitive and manual distractions. The equipment that the team uses to test this includes an eye tracker, which is essentially putting a camera near your eye so they can see where your eyes go and how long they look away from the road.
All of the research done in this lab helps the team decide what changes need to be made to Android Auto. Whether that's the size of the touch targets on the display, the font size and color, or even the layout of different screens. There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes with Android Auto, that many of us never thought about. All of this is to make sure that we can use Android Auto and not be distracted while we are driving. You can check out the full video that Nat and Lo put together about the research lab, down below. It's definitely an interesting one to watch.