Many of our smart devices notify us by buzzing our palm or our wrist but the newest example of haptic feedback technology will lighten your wallet by sending a thrill up your leg.
The auto parts maker Bosch has developed a smart gas pedal that gives drivers a little buzz on the foot when they are giving the car too much gas. This could help the the car engine run more efficiently, which in turn would help the driver stay away from the gas pump a little longer.
Bosch says the pedal can increase fuel efficiency up to 7%.
The pedal is connected to the car's transmission, and can tell the driver the best times to switch gears, which also greatly impacts fuel economy.
There's also a safety element. The pedal can be wired to safety cameras on the vehicle, which can read road signs to know when a curve is coming, for example. If the driver is going too fast, a warning tap from the pedal can tell you to ease off the gas. The feedback can also warn drivers of upcoming obstructions like heavy traffic.
The haptic feedback can vary in type — from buzzes to taps to counter pressure on the foot — to mean different things. Bosch believes that as drivers become accustomed to the feedback they will learn to react to it reflexively.
The pedal would certainly be welcomed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has long leaned on automakers to increase fuel efficiency. Not much progress has been made lately — especially now that gas prices are low.
The most recent EPA fuel economy data says 2014 model year vehicles averaged 24.3 miles per gallon, virtually the same as the previous year's models.
Automakers could focus on making more efficient engines, the EPA believes, but says the fact that consumers are choosing larger vehicles (like SUVs) these days is also a factor.
Bosch hasn't said when the smart pedal might show up in production vehicles. If gas prices go up, it might suddenly become a priority.