Illustration for article titled Do You Use Your Cars Voice Controls?

We’ve seen some interesting new ways to control your car at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show and 2016 Detroit Auto Show. That reminded me of the touch-free tech most cars have had for years; voice-activation. Yeah, remember that?

I’ve conducted a few informal polls of friends and Twitter followers to find that, no, most people of the handful I heard from do not use any kind of “push to talk” voice-activated controls on their car.


I didn’t find this all that surprising, because I don’t care much for voice-commands myself.

The first car I’d ever driven with voice-commands was my own 2005 Acura TL. There’s a little button on the steering wheel you tap, after which the car begins listening for a command.

Its capabilities are relatively vast; you can theoretically move through the whole set of infotainment menus, control a paired phone (though only its for “calling” abilities) as well as the car’s climate control.

At first it was a lot of fun. I felt like Jean-Luc Picard bossing ensigns around my car. The Acura was easily able to understand “SET TEMPERATURE MAX HOT,” “FAN SPEED SEVEN” and the orders to make a phone call.


Then for some reason I just, stopped. The tedium that came with the pause between me barking and the car doing outweighed the novelty of talking to an imaginary bridge crew after about a week. To this day I only use the “Call ____” command, because yes I still use a telephone.

How about you? Do you use your car’s voice commands? Or if it had them, would you use them? Think the latest and greatest touch/pinch/swipe human-machine interface systems will go the same way? Talk to me!


Image by the author; graphic is Ford’s voice recognition icon.

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