Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:11
Trying to text while behind the wheel of a car can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. Many would argue they have the dexterity and multi-tasking skills to safely drive and text, but there really is no way to keep your eyes on the road while trying to do other things at the same time.
Now, Nuance Communications Inc. has announced that it supports the ban on handheld text messaging behind the wheel. The company believes it is an obvious distraction that poses a serious danger to drivers, their passengers and others on the road.
Steve Chambers, president, Mobile-Enterprise-Consumer Services Division, Nuance, said that the company is now supporting a ban on handheld text messaging while driving.
“However, legislation must also encourage the implementation and continued innovation of those in-car systems and devices that enable a safer driving experience and ultimately minimize distractions,” Chambers said, adding that much of which is accomplished through a well-designed integration of speech technology.
Nuance advocates for a focus on the creation of a safer, smarter driving environment with in-car systems, devices and mobile phones powered by voice-based, or speech technologies, as well as a federal initiative that will drive the increased deployment of these systems to enable a safer mobile environment via hands-free interfaces that require limited to no visual confirmation.
In a 2008 In-Car Distraction Study sponsored by Nuance, an analysis of drivers’ eye movements revealed that voice commands help drivers to kept their eyes on the road. This technology also helps to reduce driver distraction by as much as 100 percent depending on the task.
Speech recognition technologies have been proven to increase the overall safety of the automotive environment as a result of hands-free interfaces that keep drivers’ eyes on the road. Nearly all automakers have already integrated aspects of speech technology into certain in-car infotainment systems.
It is critical to observe the ways in which the mobile industry can provide a viable solution for minimizing distractions behind the wheel through the integration of speech technology as legislative efforts focused on handheld texting while driving seek to create an overall safer automotive environment and experience.
“Multiple studies make it clear that taking your eyes off of the road while driving puts the driver and others in a perilous situation,” Chambers said. “It’s critical that drivers are able to stay focused on the road ahead and, through innovations in mobile speech, it’s possible for drivers to leverage the benefits of their in-car systems and portable devices without manual or visual distractions.”
For years, Nuance has been on the forefront of the speech applications industry and its fit within the automotive perfect is not surprising. While it is true texting and driving shouldn’t mix, a support of such legislation can bode well for this innovative company which announced last week its plans to set up an open voice services European Center of Excellence. No matter the direction of automotive legislation, Nuance is likely to continue to push the initiative and generate additional opportunities in the market.