Can Your Car Write Emails For You?

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 8, 2011 10:11:00 AM

Here's a technology that may hold some promise for your road warriors: An in-vehicle voice-to-text system that lets drivers dictate email while keeping their hands on the wheel. BMW is showing a prototype of this system, which makes it possible for drivers to edit, send and receive messages using voice commands, reports Bruce Gain at PCWorld.

BMW Voice to text

The main novelty is that you can compose e-mails with the same ease of use that you would have with a PC in an office setting--without taking your eyes off of the road or using your hands. You respond to e-mail by dictating out loud what you want to say while using voice commands for editing functions, such as deleting, moving, or replacing text. For millions of workers who otherwise waste a large percentage of their time driving every day, being able to send and receive e-mails safely while commuting would represent an obvious boost in productivity.

The system, which could be sold as an option in production models within three years, as part of the company's plans to develop voice-activated commands to operate any function that drivers must otherwise activate today by hand. For example, the German luxury carmaker expects eventually to allow drivers to enter search queries on the Internet and to hear search results read out loud by using voice commands as well.

This is just one of BMW's initiatives to bring desktop-like functionality to the automobile by way of voice commands. The company's ConnectedDrive technology lets Blackberry users connect the handset to a dashboard console using Bluetooth, and listen to email and text messages read out loud to them.

Similar in-vehicle communications efforts are underway at other auto manufacturers. Ford offers the Sync infotainment system, which enables some smartphone apps to operate on a console. Future versions expected within five years would let drivers dictate messages and hear email read out loud, Gains writes. GM, for its part, is planning to release an OnStar voice communications feature for Android phone users.

What do you think? How many of you would respond to emails while driving? I know I would.

Topics: Email, New Products

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