Just what we need. Let's put lots of capabilities into the car to distract us and then more to take up the slack when we are distracted. Let the car do the driving and then we can just watch a movie on the wind shield.
I have, on a 2010 Prius, a voice activated GPS / radio module. On a recent trip, I tried, "Zoom out", a legal command, by the way, and got everything from "Show restaurants" to "CD on". And we're going to trust these things to drive the car?
Guys, this is not a good thing.
It could be greatly improved if it asked, "I heard CD on. Is this correct?" That alone would decrease frustration level.
I no longer even try to use voice commands, although I was raised in Colorado, and, according to most people, enunciate clearly enough, but not, apparently, clearly enough for slockware, er, I'm sorry, software.
Maybe eventually, but I'm skeptical still. I have an OnStar system that is voice activated, but it's not fool proof. Oddly enough, it has most problems when I tell it to call "home." "Home" is one word it finds baffling. Needs repeating just about every time. So, just imagine being stressed out, in some critical situation, and barking out a command the system can't decipher. Perhaps because your voice sounds different when stressed. Come now.
On the subject of hands-free calling, I've read more than one report that says it's just about as distracting as using a cell phone. While I don't dispute that, I'm curious why talking hands-free on a phone should be any different from having a conversation in the car, with a passenger, while driving.
All I can come up with is that while driving and conversing with a passenger, the driver feels freer to stop talking when the driving requires more attention? And on the phone, you can't just leave the other guy hanging? Or perhaps conversing over a low-fidelity audio link, like voice telephone links, is simply more of a burden on the brain, than in person conversations? I mean, it's not like the driver can actually look at the person he's speaking to, while driving, so the missing visual cues can't be the difference in this phone while driving matter.
I also have serious doubts about the efficacy of such voice activated systems in critical situations when your voice may not remain the same with which you would have trained your voice system.
It is better to have some touch pad kind of systems with one touch command facility , on the dashboard.
How about have the car automatically detect, A: when traffic is too heavy to be safe, or, B: when you're driving like a jerk, and then, auto-magically, turn off the radio, TV, GPS, telephone, ipod, and everything else that could possibly be distracting.
Might cut down on the DWS syndrome (Driving While Stupid).
I agree that voice commands are very complex to handle, and the comment about "probablistic algorithms means that the system would always assume the most common command. One option that could help might be similar to what we saw in Star Trek, where Kirk would first say "computer", and then state his request.
Of course, all of this technology will certainly serve to provide more distractions and reduce safety, since most human minds can't handle large amounts of distraction without ignoring the more important task of driving. This is not just some wild assertion, it has been proved with research several times.