I have On Star . . . making a call makes one wish they could put their arm through the speaker and pinch off the neck of that inept operator.” This is just one example of the many complaints people have with their cars voice activation system.

The conversation—recently sparked into a new debate by a piece written in the Wall Street Journal—validates the articles claim that in car voice recognition is drastically lacking in user satisfaction. According to WSJ, 90% of the 2014 car models released by large manufacturers will come with built-in voice recognition. The problem is that by the time consumers receive these cars, the voice technology they contain is already several years old. 

So what’s the solution? One option is to have the voice recognition delivered through an app on your cell-phone instead of through the car, thus providing more up-to-date software with superior performance. 

Robin, our very own Siri-like assistant for Android, has been evolving to refine its technology specifically for in-car use. Special features have been developed to create a safer, less distracting driving environment. These features include:
• Hands-free texting by voice - one where you don't actually need to look at your phone to make sure your words were properly recognized. 

• Continuous dialogue - for instance, you can ask the system for a French restaurant in San Francisco, then follow up asking for reviews, directions, parking near the selected venue, etc. - all without ever having to take your eyes off the road.

• Automatic driving mode detection - sensing your speed and acceleration, the service can automagically activate in-car assistance mode, so it's there when you need it.  

• A slower pace of speech, making sure the driver doesn't need to over-concentrate on the interaction - the road comes first! Occasionally, Robin will repeat important information several times, just in case you were busy making a turn. 

Of course there are other solutions on the Android market for these needs including Google Now, Samsung S Voice, and others . . . but research [1,2] shows that most voice interfaces are actually more distracting to drivers than manual controls because they haven’t been developed specifically for the car environment. 

What are your thoughts? Do you think an app specifically designed for the car environment could be the solution? Why or why not?

[1] Car technology: voice controls can be just as distracting to drivers, says new study http://www.ibtimes.com/car-technology-voice-controls-can-be-just-distracting-drivers-says-new-study-1700735
[2] Distracted driving may not be entirely your fault http://www.cbsnews.com/news/distracted-driving-study-raises-concerns-about-hands-free-voice-command-features/