Speech-enabled cars have come a long way since the annoying recorded message “The door is ajar” appeared in cars in the 80’s, before quickly disappearing from later models. Honda and IBM are now working on a car that not only talks to you, but also listens. IBM’s contribution is an embedded version of their ViaVoice software that recognizes 700 commands and around 1.7 million street and city names.
Tonight I was riding in a friend’s car and I was using the built-in GPS-based navigational system. The display was a large, bright LCD display built into the front dash and the user interface was quite good. However, there’s no way I could have entered street addresses while driving. A speech recognition interface like what IBM and Honda are developing would have been much, much better.
While a car is a pretty noisy environment, I often use my cellphone with an earbud to call into my VoiceXML apps while driving. The speech recognition performance is usually very good. As long as you don’t have the windows down while driving really fast or through a very noisy area, IBM’s embedded ViaVoice system should be able to work pretty well.