This is a nice system. The driver can keep the hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road while operating all the gadjets by giving voice commands. The driver can control the entertainment gadgets,navigation,get the vehicle information,climate control and have telephonic conversation by voice commands.
It is not just keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road that is important. You need to keep your brain engaged too.
If you are swearing at the machine because it is not hearing you properly then you are probably not in the right mood for driving!
It has been noted with Bluetooth headsets (which are legal in many areas) that these are as distracting as holding a cellphone to your ear during a voice call.
I must say I have not used voice recognition for a long time, but anyone that remembers the Microsoft VR fiasco will remember how bad it can be!
I once worked for a telecom company where we tested some VR gear that had been trained to understand British voices. None of the British guys in the office could make it work. Nor me (South African accent). The only guy who could make it work was a Fijian Indian guy!
Sure! Voice recognition UIs can definitely reduce the distractions for the driver. But some of those voice conversation themselves may be too distracting, for example if the driver happens to get a nagging call from his wife! There will be such situations when the drivers eyes will be on the road, his hands on the steering wheel but his mind getting dragged into some other world and a driver in everybody knows well what disasters can happen when your mind is not on the job at hand.
I had the chance recently to interact the SYNC system in a Ford Edge. It was easy to get to use, with responses to most of the intuitive commands I could think up to control the audio and the climate control. Unfortunately, this car did not have a navigation system, which is where I think the utility of speech recognition can prove most useful.
I hope to use some other Nuance-based voice recognition products in the near future, and will report on the results.
The CPU hit factor is not something to be taken lightly, which is why companies turn to a vendor like Rubidium, which offers a small footprint, low resource, cost effective solution as opposed to the larger Nuance product.