Though a voice recognition system in cars is not a new concept, Apple getting on board has created the usual Apple frenzy. Monday they released Eyes Free, their system that would allow drivers to access everyone’s favorite female robot, Siri, by pushing a single button on the steering wheel. They already have many automakers ready to install the system though there are no promises that Siri will actually reduce distractions while driving yet.
Apple is famous for rethinking how we interact with technology systems. According to Ed Kim, an analyst for the auto industry, this integration was inevitable. Siri functions better than any car navigation system available so why shouldn’t drivers just let their phone do the work? He believes in the future carmakers might even stop having their voice recognition systems built into vehicles and instead let the drivers use their cellphones. With such overwhelming acceptance from automakers to integrate Siri with their current hands-free systems, Apple has once again proved its influence in the world of technology, even if they aren’t the first to pioneer the technology. It only took about a year to get most major carmakers to agree to the integration.
Even though some companies already have similar systems, like Sync with Ford and Uconnect with Chrysler, nobody has ever waited in line for hours just for the chance to buy these products. Apple hopes to recreate the excitement that they experience over new iPods and iPhones for car dealers with Siri. Verizon has also jumped on this bandwagon by buying out Hughes Telematics, a company that develops emergency and GPS systems for vehicles, for over $610 million in cash.
With Apple’s record of creating user-friendly devices and constantly redefining what’s cool, they can mostly rely on that to find success with the in-car system. The system’s success will also depend a lot on how well Siri can be integrated into current systems. Many industry experts expect that the Siri system will create major market competition, just like all of Apple’s products, and any automaker signing up can rely on the product’s popularity because of Apple’s brand name and reputation.
However, not everyone is so easily cast under the Apple spell. Advocates for road safety will quickly applaud any effort to keep drivers from taking their eyes off the road, but worry that Siri could create just as many chances for distraction as using a phone. There’s just no safer way to text or use your phone while en route other than employing someone else to drive you around like noble transportation & limousines. Advocates mostly agree that the Eyes Free system would change the way we interact with our cars while driving, but are hesitant to fully support it because they believe that any technology in a car comes with the risk of taking the driver away from what should be the top priority: driving.
39 of our United States have already created laws that make texting while driving illegal. This system could help people get stuff done while driving, but there’s no way to know what distractions it could cause for drivers. Maybe Siri knows the answer.