Voice is changing the way we drive

Voice is changing the way we drive

The first voice activated car driver was Dr. Foster (played by David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider back in the 1980s). The voice activation system in question was the Pontiac Trans Am, the Knight Industries Two Thousand (otherwise known as KITT), and was a fully-fledged AI that functioned as Dr. Foster’s partner in solving a crime. Fast forward to 2016, where the legendary Knight Rider is about to get an exciting reboot and where voice-activated driving is no longer just something out of a TV show or an overly active imagination. And ok, voice-activated driving assistance may not quite be ready to reach full sentience and help us stop crime, but there are a whole bunch of smart voice-activated systems out there that are helping us drive better.

KNIGHT RIDER -- Pictured: David Hasselhoff and K.I.T.T. -- Photo by:  Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

KNIGHT RIDER — Pictured: David Hasselhoff and K.I.T.T. — Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Source: screenrant.com

For starters, there is a wide range of navigation apps on the market, like Waze, that help us ditch traditional sat nav devices while benefiting from crowdsourced information on traffic, accidents and more. And of course, voice plays a big part in all of this; but if that alone isn’t exciting enough, you will be pleased to know that you can now use Morgan Freeman’s voice on Waze, for all the iconic driving wisdom you might need. Another app to pay attention to is Google Maps Voice, which lets you navigate via voice commands through your Apple or Android phone. This means no more pulling over while driving in order to update your route (yay). The app also helps you find petrol stations, restaurants, and supermarkets on your way home.

And it’s not just apps that are getting smarter; cars are getting smarter and progressing closer to the goal of AI. BMW’s voice control system now lets you control various features of your car like climate control, your sound system, and of course navigation. And instead of typing in instructions you can just tell your car to take you home and it will. The exact system you get depends on your model of car, but Dragon Drive from the Sedan 7 series is arguably one of the best. Dragon Drive allows you to talk to your car conversationally and even let’s you interrupt so you don’t have to listen to long menus. Hopefully, systems like this will help to reduce the number of car accidents caused by texting (which currently make up roughly a quarter of all crashes in the US alone).

With increasingly hands-free technology, a voice is changing the way we drive. And though there are still issues with voice recognition, voice technologies are rapidly improving, with companies like Baidu reaching a reporting 96% accuracy level. There haven’t yet been many studies on the impact that hands-free is having on drivers. One study from a few years ago suggests that voice is no safer than text in terms of distraction. However, this was based on a small sample size of just over 40 individuals and was tested on older technologies with a much lower level of accuracy. As voice tech becomes more intuitive and more conversational it will likely make driving more convenient and comfortable while also making it safer.

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