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Cockpit chaos: Adaptive interfaces vital

Posted: 01 Sep 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:in-car navigation? telematics? automotive electronics? speech-recognition? trafficmaster?

As we inch toward the bleeding edge of cockpit chaos, there appears no end to the diversity and in-your-face demand for attention that product makers thrust upon motor-vehicle drivers around the world. In fact, based on figures published by the Consumer Electronics Association, the average driver purchases two new in-car devices each year.

The result: Drivers are presented with every safety, convenience, entertainment and productivity device or service that one can imagine. More is on the way. The reason for this proliferation of in-vehicle products and services? Drivers are bored. A plain AM-FM radio with cassette just does not pull us out of highway hypnosis. Enter the CD, DVD, Playstation, navigation system, e-mail, news on demand, and satellite radio.

The time required to dial just the 10-digit string by thumb and eye is about five seconds. During that time, at 60mph, you would have traveled 138.59m. Should traffic change, the general public typically cannot react more quickly than 0.18s to 0.20s.

The eyes are used to getting visual confirmation of the hand actions. Next time you are driving, try to operate your radio, mobile phone, or climate-control panel with your hands only - without looking at the device for confirmation. While you can train yourself to do it, it is not natural. Your eyes will leave the road - if just for a second. Next, try to change those devices with just your eyes. The point is that there is technology that allows you to operate controls in your vehicle, or obtain off-board services, without looking away from the road or using your hands.

Speech-recognition technology is getting better with each revision, but it is already at an acceptable level. It gives the driver the ability to control all in-vehicle devices and access to off-board services with hands and eyes, paying attention to the road ahead and reacting to traffic conditions.

Real-time input

Using speech recognition as a primary interface between drivers and devices, we can turn our attention to the devices that provide critical information.

Navigation Of the devices that provide a layer of safety, navigation is supreme. Knowing exactly where to turn makes the trip simple, easy, and enjoyable. In-vehicle systems are increasingly being joined by off-board navigation services such as Webraska.

Real-time traffic updates

Mix navigation with real-time traffic updates, such as TrafficMaster, and drivers can overlay route information on their navigation, allowing them to avoid accidents, construction, or bottlenecks.

Mobile phone

It is essential to offer a car kit with speech-enabled, hands free, eyes-free mobile phones. Companies have created specific systems designed to dial the phone, answer it, hang up, and transfer calls using only voice.

Telematic services

No matter how poorly understood by the public, telematics provides a clear benefit layer of safety and convenience to the driver. First, it monitors the vehicle for abnormalities, such as detecting a crash. Second, it provides voice interaction to a person or database that can help the driver understand puzzling situations or gain assistance in a situation that may cause stress. Also, it can help reduce the fear that some drivers have of being alone on an unfamiliar or unsafe roadway.

Telematics service providers such as Onstar (General Motors) are being joined by innovative services from upstarts MobileAria Inc. (Mountain View) and Commroad, which provide services beyond safety and security. They provide efficiency and entertainment, at the sound of voice command. Voice Insight in Belgium has created a speech solution to allow a user to query any database by voice.

- W. Scott Pyles

VP Automotive

ScanSoft Inc.

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