Integrated in-car speech solutions are becoming more and more popular for drivers as the technology not only helps motorists to stay connected while they're on the move, but also helps to improve driver safety. Research suggests that in the UK, 82% of drivers that have access to speech solutions in the car, make use of this technology. Speech recognition and text-to-speech technology can enable drivers to have complete usability of their mobile phones, to input destination entries into navigation systems, and to control their infotainment systems without needing to remove their hands from the wheel.
As laws regarding the use of mobile phones while driving continue to become more and more stringent in order to help improve driver safety, speech solutions can eliminate the notion that the car is a white spot when it comes to communication. However, despite this technology being available and despite these increasingly strict laws, recent research in the UK from the RAC revealed that 50% of motorists admitted to checking their phone, 21% were likely to read a social media alert and 31% admitted to texting at the wheel.
These stats highlight the desire for drivers to stay connected while on the road; however it's essential that drivers start making the most of the technology available to them in order to improve their safety while they stay in touch. Archaic speech solutions were sometimes difficult and unintuitive to use. If drivers were unable to easily operate in-car systems and were unable to master the correct series of commands, it was likely that they would become distracted, which completely undermines the benefits of using speech solutions in the car.
The accuracy and usability of embedded speech solutions continues to improve and drivers are no longer required to learn a series of complicated commands, making it easier to interact vocally with electronic devices. By providing drivers with one, easy-to-use, transparent interface for voice control, in-car speech solutions can help to improve convenience and usability of technology within their car. For system integrators, however, the challenge can come with making extremely complex systems work together to create an easy-to-use offering for drivers—while maintaining brand identity for OEMs.
For how these challenges in automotive voice control are met, read the complete article here, courtesy of Automotive Designline Europe.
Gerhard Hanrieder is head of speech platform at SVOX AG, Zurich, Switzerland.
Anyway, there is quite a lot of room to improve: Feedback from the devices should be only speech based, and the orders should be given by natural language, and not just by mimic buttons that you should remember.
I have a free hands device for my phone that makes dialing an almost not distracting job, although further conversations almost always distract attention from the road and, as majortom84 stated, should be avoided.
As use of GPS is clearly more convenient and less distracting than conventional maps (for me at least), I think that GPS speech aided devices will improve and will became an standard.
Other kind of devices (phones, sms, multimedia,..) has proved dangerous and probably its use will decline with time (hopefully)
"Control ... without removing their hands from the wheel?" Do we still believe that is the problem with these gizmos? Our hands, not driver inattention? What does the research say about the accident rates of those drivers with the hands-free devices?
I chose a navigation system with voice controls for exactly this reason, and I disabled the feature after one trip. It's not that the voice commands were difficult - in fact it allowed me to speak the name of any button on the screen - it is that making decisions and traversing the menus required too much of my attention and my eyes. I found looking at the screen for even one second out of ten - and then thinking about which button to press next - interfered with my sense of what was going on around me, and my ability to think ahead as I should.
Of course it's possible (likely, really) I do not belong to the elite group who actually can multitask something as complex and important as driving, but then again that group doesn't include nearly as many idiots as that guy who just cut you off thinks it does. (Full disclosure: I have never had a relative or close friend hit by a distracted driver. Yet.)
I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers when being in your car meant you waited until you got where you were going to contact someone. Now, half of us don't even wait until a stop light to return a text; or won't sit one minute longer in a parking space to finish a call. It's going to get worse. So develop cool interactive technology in the automobile FOR THE PASSENGERS, or prove to me the next must-have electronic toy actually HELPS me do my #1 job behind the wheel.
(speaking for myself, not my employer)
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