GM expands use of voice recognition technology
DETROIT -- Now that General Motors is creating a dashboard button to let motorists activate Apple's Siri voice technology, the automaker plans to do the same for Android.
Mary Chan, chief of GM's OnStar and infotainment operations, said Monday the automaker will program the Siri button to accommodate drivers who own Android smart phones. However, she did not indicate during the interview at the Detroit auto show whether the new feature would be ready this year.
In 2013, GM is adding the Siri button to its Chevrolet Spark and Sonic cockpits to allow motorists to ask questions of Siri using conversational language.
Motorists who could bring their iPhone into the cockpit can ask Siri for the location of nearby gas stations or restaurants, or what the weather is like in Detroit. An embedded microphone in the vehicle will pick up the question, and the vehicle's sound system would play Siri's response.
That would allow the driver to keep his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road.
However, GM has engineered the system so that users can't distract themselves with overly complex questions like "What is a waterfall?" Siri will provide only verbal answers, so that motorists won't be distracted by a wordy response on the dashboard screen.
Chan, who came to General Motors from Dell Inc. last May, is trying to speed up the integration of infotainment functions in GM's vehicles. Last year, Apple announced that it was working with several automakers to develop a vehicle-friendly version of Siri.
Siri and Dragon Go could help automakers that want to dump the confusing menu of memorized phrases required to operate a vehicle's infotainment systems. But even as GM accommodates Siri and Dragon Go into its vehicles, the automaker will allow OnStar to develop its own natural language voice technology, Chan said.
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