Apple’s Eye - Free to Go Out for a Drive Soon
Rajesh is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
It’s not an iCar, but early next year General Motors’ (NYSE: GM) Spark and Sonic will integrate a feature that will let drivers talk with the car. The Detroit automaker announced on Tuesday that it would integrate Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) ‘Eye Free’ Siri so that drivers can do things by asking with the least distraction. A voice command button would be mounted on the steering wheel and the drivers will only need to tap it to activate for hands-free tasks. GM would be the first out of the nine carmakers to integrate the voice enabled feature in its vehicles. The automaker has come up with a way to link the program and the entertainment systems in the Chevy Spark and Chevy Sonic.
The Chevrolet Spark and Sonic LTZ and RS models will let drivers connect their iPhones to Siri through the Chevy’s MyLink System. Both Apple and GM are purposely focusing to launch Siri in inexpensive cars like the Spark and Sonic instead of high-end luxury models. The main idea is to appeal to young car buyers who are attracted by the latest technologies.
So in what ways can the integration assist?
By adding the Siri software, users will be able to converse with the program and get things done without having to look at their phones while driving. So this will keep drivers connected to their phones while safely keeping their eyes focused on the road.
The eyes-free functionality can do a variety of phone tasks by simply using the voice command. One can make calls from the iPhone contact list, listen to incoming messages and emails or compose one, play music from the iTunes library or even switch sources between the radio and iPod mode. One can even get the game scores, access the calendar, make or set appointments.
In addition, to minimize distraction there is an eye-free mode that will allow users not only to interact hands-free but eyes-free too. All that the user needs is to give voice commands while the screen will remain dark when Siri answers the questions. The blacked out screen is given to ensure that the driver doesn’t get diverted by the screen while driving. Moreover, this artificial intelligence technology will deny any request that it considers complicated or awkward to guard the attention of the driver. However, Siri will not be able to offer solutions to complex requests that need the web page to be displayed as GM considers this a distraction.
What about the other auto players?
GM isn’t the only automaker to add voice recognition smartphone-based features in the upcoming models, as other auto companies are in the queue as well. Detroit peer Ford Motors (NYSE: F) is also working on this feature that will enable users to use smartphones in the car with little distraction. It plans to launch this feature with the Ford Fiesta that is slated for 2014. Other automakers that propose to integrate their version of this hands-free feature in the near future are Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, BMW, Jaguar, Toyota, Chrysler, Audi and Honda.
With improving car technology it would be interesting to see how the voice recognition feature actually works on vehicles. It is smart on GM’s part to test the feature on cheaper cars first before trying them on luxury vehicles. This will also help the automaker to attract young buyers who are crazy over new technologies and love to remain connected to their smartphones even while driving. This would give both GM and the tech giant Apple to make a unique offering to their customers till the time other automakers adopt this new trend. The voice control personal assistant would help in staying connected all through while giving you a safer driving experience. This is what the Siri integration is all about.
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