Apple announces Siri Eyes Free technology

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Apple has revealed Siri Eyes Freei at it's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Franciscoii. The Siri Eyes Free technology is an extension of the Siri voice-controlled personal assistant that has been a feature available to iPhone 4S users since October 2011.

The in-car system will be hands-free and eyes-freeiii. Cars that adopt the voice control system will enable the driver to dial numbers, answer calls and respond to text messages all by voice command. The technology will work by the user plugging their iPhone into a USB point and then activating the software by pressing a button on the steering wheel. Siri's features will be then integrated into the Eyes Free system of the car.

Siri Eyes Free is coming to a range of motor vehicles, allowing drivers to control functions with voice while driving.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Siri, the technology is a voice-command feature of the iPhone. The software understands plain language, remembers context and gives you feedback like a real person wouldiv. For example, ask Siri about the weather and it will answer you with real data about current weather and forecast for the specified place. If you tell Siri to 'text Jane I'm running late', it will do just that. The point of Siri is to perform small day-to-day tasks such as setting reminders, sending a text message and making a calliv, by voice alone.

In the near future, the Eyes Free technology will be available in certain car brands and models including the Mercedes-Benz A-Class small hatch that goes on sale in the first quarter of next yearii. Other than Mercedes-Benz, Apple has also revealed that Siri Eyes Free will be integrated into cars from Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Chrysler, Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Land Roverii.

Siri is not the only in-car voice command system on the market. Ford's Syncv is an example of a voice control system ii,vi, based on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Automotivevii platform. Other manufacturers working with Windows Embedded include Fiat, Kia and Nissan.

Microsoft is also working with a number of automotive manufacturers to have the Windows Embedded Automotive platform included in vehicles. Above is a screen grab from the Microsoft site showcasing the company's work with Ford.

Driving with in-car voice control systems: Safety first

A hands- and eyes-free voice command system can improve your experience in the driver's seat. But it is important that you obey the rules of your respective state regarding in-car technologies. The National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 released by the Australian Transport Council (ATC) last year found that "mobile phone use produces a significant increase in casualty crash risk, regardless of whether the phone is handheld or hands-free"viii. Therefore it is important to use tools such as Siri Eyes Free appropriately and with care.

i HeartApple Press Info, 2012, Apple, Apple Previews iOS 6 With All New Maps, Siri Features, Facebook Integration, Shared Photo Streams & New Passbook App, June 11,

ii Dowling, J., 2012, Sydney Morning Herald, Siri comes to cars, 12 June,

iii iOS 6 Preview, 2012, Apple, Siri,

iv Apple, iPhone features, Siri: Your wish is its command,

v Beissmann, T., 2011, Car Advice, Ford SYNC to arrive in Australia in 2012 Ford Focus, 02 March,

vi Ford,

vii Microsoft, Windows Embedded Automotive 7,

viii The Australian Transport Council, 2012, National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020,, p.90