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No, I don’t want to talk to the damn car

“Oh, no problem if you can’t use the touchscreen anymore like you’re used to, or remove 27 buttons from the inside. Just use our awesome voice controls!”

I hear something similar a lot lately while voicing my concerns about some recently overhauled infotainment systems. Toyota When BMWFor example, their touchscreens have gone downhill in terms of how intuitive and easy to use they are. for Toyota/Lexuswhich means getting rid of the nice physical menu button and split-screen feature. for BMWwhich means embedding features like primary climate control and adaptive cruise control into a sea of ​​touchscreen menus.

I asked ToyotaLexus A technical communicator got Voice Control’s answer as to why they are removing these menu buttons and the ability to split the screen between content sources as was previously possible in some vehicles. rice field. What drivers face while driving when they express concern about a page full of small menu icons is BMW i4 When iXa BMW software engineer gave us the answer for voice control.

OK. So let’s give them a whirlwind.

was driving recently BMW iXand when I came across the old truck I burp, so I decided to use voice control to recirculate the air.Remember, this is clearly natural speech recognition software.

“Hey BMW. Turn on air recirculation.”

No. Boilerplate “robot I don’t know.” he replies.

“Hey BMW, turn on air recirculation on climate control.”

No. Ditto.

“Hey BMW, turn on the air recirculation feature in the heating and ventilation system of this ridiculously futuristic car.”

No. At this point it was smelly inside.

I don’t know how many times I tried to use the supposed natural speech recognition. new car I just realize they don’t understand what I want. This is probably because you’re trying to find features that weren’t previously found in complex touchscreen interfaces. This leads to a scenario of “oh no, let’s ask the car”.

By contrast, this morning I had my speech recognition system mercedes EQE to quickly change SiriusXM radio stations.

“Hey Mercedes SiriusXM Channel 28”

bingo! It understood and said nothing back to me. In theory this should work, but in my experience it rarely works. Of course, in both the success and failure scenarios I’ve presented, what we’re ultimately talking about is using voice control as a workaround. It was a workaround for climate control to move to touchscreen menus. For the Mercedes radio channel, it was for me who hopped in the car without programming the radio presets. Both are accomplished much faster than speaking, preferably with a simple button press.

Well, one of the reasons SiriusXM commands work is their simplicity. In fact, I was able to do the exact same trick with voice commands back in 2006. Acura TSXSure, I had to press the talk button first and memorize the exact command, but the results and completion times were the same. It was also a workaround just like it is now.

One element that is definitely a benefit and not a workaround is programming the navigation my case it was TSX Today there are various cars in use that can perform the same tasks without knowing the exact commands. Saying, “Hey Mercedes, set the navigation system at 1060 West Addison Street, Chicago, Illinois,” is much faster than typing on a touchscreen. Hmm.

Much like the touchscreen and iDrive-style knobs, voice commands are great for accomplishing some tasks and great for doing others. The touchscreen is great for quickly selecting what’s already on the screen, but not so great when you have to swipe through long lists of possibilities like radio stations or playlists. Nobu basically has opposite talent sets and complements the two. Voice commands can fill in the gaps because they’re great for doing things that are cumbersome and time-consuming with the other two (or the dash button), but if you don’t know exactly what song you want Not very suitable. You don’t want to spend six times as long doing what you could have done by stretching your arm and pressing a small button.

The answer, ultimately, is redundancy. In addition to all of the above, BMW provided wheel controls and gesture controls in case you wanted to pretend to be a wizard. It went well. Essentially, it gives people the option to control which vehicle is best, or in a broader sense, best suited when operating a moving vehicle.

“Ahaha! But a safe angle!” one might argue. In fact, your eyes are 100% on the road and your hands are 100% on the steering wheel and you can still use voice commands. Bringing me back to three key objections: First, voice commands should actually work reliably, but they often don’t, and second, voice commands are like reaching down and pressing a button. Sorry, “Toyota, raise the temperature to 72” and wait a few beats is not enough. Even my TSX he was able to do it 17 years ago.

Finally, you need to know what voice commands can and cannot do. This is because there are inevitably quite a few functions outside the scope of voice commands. These are usually vehicle systems rather than infotainment systems, such as turning off the lane keeping system and perhaps air recirculation (in the meantime, how do you avoid burying the touchscreen’s eight menus so deeply? OK?)

When someone at a car company starts talking about the wonders of a new voice recognition feature, they are inevitably presented as if we suddenly achieved it. USS Enterprise-D On the computer you can request to turn on the lights, find Commander Fly to Riker or Qo’nos. we’re nowhere near that. Then also enterprise Computers sometimes required precise commands. What happens if you ask this Mercedes EQE for tea, Earl Grey, or hot? No, I don’t want to talk to the damn car

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