Today Logitech announced the Logi ZeroTouch, a new in-car mount for Android smartphones. The Logi ZeroTouch is another step in Logitech's push to diversify their product offerings and expand beyond their traditional market as a computer peripheral manufacturer.

The Logi ZeroTouch is actually two different products. Both are mounts for your Android phone that can be installed in your car. One is a clip mount that can attach to an air vent, and the other is a larger mount with a suction cup that can be put on the dashboard. Both have a magnet embedded in the back, and they communicate with your smartphone using Bluetooth LE. Most smartphones that support wireless charging should work with the system directly, as they already have embedded magnets for connecting to wireless chargers. For Android phones that don't, Logitech provides metal strips that can be attached to the back of the phone to make it work with the mount.

The goal of the ZeroTouch is to bring the features that exist in modern connected cars to older vehicles. It works with an Android app developed by Logitech. By attaching the phone to the dock, the app is automatically triggered. Logitech says that the app uses voice recognition and natural language processing to respond to queries and actions in a natural manner. You can perform actions like checking and sending messages, with incoming messages being read aloud by the application. There's also integration with popular apps like Google Maps and Waze for directions, and Spotify for music.

Logitech says that they hope to reduce the number of people texting and driving with this system. While I understand the rationale here, I'm a bit skeptical of products that take this standpoint. In my view, the best thing to do with your phone when driving is to not use it at all. While a voice-controlled app for checking and sending messages and controlling audio playback is safer than fiddling with your phone directly, I can't help but worry that these systems will entice drivers who would otherwise have not used their phone at all when driving to start doing so. Even when your phone is voice controlled, it's still a distraction from your driving. I think it'd be interesting to see companies perform some studies on the positive and negative effects of introducing voice-controlled smartphone systems in vehicles.

Both the vent clip and dashboard versions of the Logi ZeroTouch are available today. The vent clip model comes in the three colors you see above, while the dashboard mount just comes in black. They're priced at $59.99 and $79.99 respectively, and you can buy them right now directly from Logitech or from Amazon.

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  • slumberlust - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Price seems really expensive for a mount/charger. If I have to run a cord to the charger, I might as well spend $20 on a cheaper mount and run the USB directly to the phone.

    I highly doubt my vents can hold a 6P upright. That thing is heavy.
    Reply
  • name99 - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    (a) What you are presumably paying for is their extra Android app. I'm not an Android guy so I've no idea what extra value it gives you over the standard phone behavior.
    Apple's grand strategy along these lines appears to be the ability to know that the phone is in a "Car" environment (through detecting a bluetooth beacon, which could be anything --- an Automatic adaptor for example, or a tiny $5 BT/USB nub that you plug into your car's USB power port) and tailor behavior appropriately; but none of this seems in place yet except a few hints in the header files that have been detected by people exploring the system.

    (b) Building a charger into these sorts of devices is generally not practical. It's already a very customized effort to try to find a good place to mount one --- has to be in reach of your arms and along eyeline, phone mustn't block whatever controls you want to immediately access, you may not want to block the air vent or CD slot, etc. Adding an additional constraint of trying to snake wires around your car in a way you find acceptable just reduces the fraction of people who can use it.

    (c) Having a mount in your car really IS nice. It makes things much easier to use than having to root around in a cup holder. I'm not a person who feels comfortable using the phone while driving, but even I have found occasional value in being able to at least hit the phone easily to tell a caller "I'm driving, call you back in 20 min".

    (d) Vent mounted holders are only appropriate for cars that have "1D" (up-down) vent control. If you have 2D vent control (ie also can slide the vent direction side to side, then there's a second set of vents behind the first, and they will either block the vent mount going in, or the second set of vents will not be able to move any more, they will be locked in place.

    (e) I use this guy
    http://www.amazon.com/Nochoice®-Magnetic-Hold...
    and am very happy with it. I mounted the iron pad on my iPhone and then slipped the (Apple leather) cover back on, and you cannot feel or see that the iron pad is there.
    But if you don't use a cover, you will probably be unhappy because the iron pad, while thin, is thick enough that you definitely would notice it as an "edge" of different height on the back of your phone.

    There are cheaper version of what looks like the same thing, but most of the cheaper versions mount a magnet, not an iron pad, on the back of the device. This is OK if you are mounting something like a GPS that you're rarely going to move from the car, but it's a thick bump (5mm or so ) that you don't want to stick of your phone, not to mention what it might do to credit cards in your pocket.

    I find this holds my iPhone 6 perfectly adequately --- strong enough that it feels robust when press buttons or the screen, doesn't twist, but easy to peel off when I leave the car.

    I actually liked the idea enough that I then bought a second mounter of this sort along with a combination power cord from USB to Apple 30pin, Lightning, and micro-USB, and mounted the "neck" of that cord on the dashboard so that if any car guests (or even myself, though usually I don't run dry on battery) need to charge, I have all the usual charging options easily on hand.
    (If you do do this, decide whether you want the Apple 30 pin charger to handle older iPods as well, or just iPhones and the later [7th,maybe 6th and 5th?] iPods. Many of the combo cords do NOT handle older iPods for some reason, so read the specs carefully.)
    Reply
  • Murloc - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    how is this different than putting the phone in the cup holder and talking to it? Reply
  • sweetca - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Winner! Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Yeah they totally missed the boat selling an accessory that is optimized for phones with wireless charging by taking advantage of the coil magnet, without actually embedding s wireless charger. There are dual-standard chargers that support both Qi and that other one, too, so it could have been ultimately universal. Instead it's just an overpriced mount. Reply
  • Manch - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I don't see the difference with chatting with a passenger vs voice commands for a hands free device or infotainment like SYNC or something. It doesn't take your eyes off the road to do so. It may entice few drivers to use this vs leaving their phone off but they're a small bunch and there are many more that use their phone w/o one while driving. If this gets them to put the phone down and keep their eyes on the road, then I think its a good thing. Reply
  • brosenau - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Manch -- what you're saying sounds very intuitive and reasonable, but a good deal of research shows that passengers generally stop distracting drivers at critical moments (that they can perceive because they are in the car with the driver), and (experienced) drivers are (relatively) good at ignoring more passive stimuli (like radio) compared to stimuli we engage with (like conversations). Much of the slowed reaction times, poor decisions, and lack of awareness from using a phone while driving stem from the cognitive demands of doing two things at once, rather than the motor demands. There are many demonstrations of this, ranging from very contrived lab scenarios to extremely realistic experiments. One researcher who has done a bunch of this work is David Strayer at the University of Utah; some of his research can be viewed here: https://www.psych.utah.edu/lab/appliedcognition/ .

    (Sorry for the PSA -- I work in a related field, and it always bugs me that even as we learn more about how distracted driving works, technology seems to be designed to enable instead of minimize this.)
    Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    @brosenau: "... a good deal of research shows that passengers generally stop distracting drivers at critical moments (that they can perceive because they are in the car with the driver) ..."

    Tell that to the kids.

    @brosenau: "... (experienced) drivers are (relatively) good at ignoring more passive stimuli (like radio) compared to stimuli we engage with (like conversations)."

    What about the inexperienced drivers (have to start somewhere)?
    What about people who sing to the radio negating the passive classification (not me, but I know more than a few)?
    Hote: An experienced driver can ignore what's on the other end of the phone when the situation calls for it as well.

    You're not going to convince kids to put a lid on it the entire time they're in the car. You're also not going to convince parents not to drive with kids in the car. You can't become an experienced driver before being an inexperienced driver. Regardless of what these studies suggest, until you can solve these (among other) issues, it makes little sense to pursue lesser issues.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    It's just not that simple... You can stop singing much more easily than you can tell someone over the phone "hold on one second I'm changing lanes", never mind more split second decisions like someone cutting you off etc.

    You're giving the human brain far too much credit and/or massively underestimating how engaging a conversation can be vs other more passive stimuli (radio).

    Parents yelling at kids and turning around to get mean and/or interact with them is also a huge hazard I've witnessed first hand... But that's somewhat unavoidable and if you're trying to be a good parent you'll teach them to behave in the car or find a way for them to entertain themselves...

    Just because we have to put up with X & Y doesn't mean we should encourage Z. It's definitely too late to stop calls while driving but it's not too late to educate people on what a hazard they can be. Frankly I think they should start figuring as evidence in accidents...
    Reply
  • Manch - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    I don't how it is for others. My experiences are anecdotal, but for me, even when engaged in conversation with others in the car or the phone if I need to stop talking to remove the distraction I will. Ill even tell them to stand by. I find that passengers are more distracting. A driver shouldn't wait for or rely on a cue from a passenger to pay attention. I hate it when passengers in particular say crap like "look out" or make sudden recoiling movements. Its extremely distracting. Makes me think I missed something when in fact I haven't and they're just being a back seat driver. Either way using voice commands is far less distracting than someone looking at their screen and touch typing on there phone bc at least with voice commands, they can keep their eyes where they should be. On the road. Regardless of that, a distraction is a distraction. My point is, if this makes there phone less of a distraction then I'm OK with it. Its better than the alternative. We all know some people will not just put the phone down. Reply

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