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Siri's Creator Challenges Texting-While-Driving Study

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the skin-in-the-game dept.

Communications 262

waderoush writes "A rash of media reports last week, reporting on a study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, implied that using voice-to-text apps like Siri or Vlingo while driving is no safer than manual texting. But Adam Cheyer, the co-inventor of Siri, says journalists took the wrong message from the study, which didn't test Siri or Vlingo in the recommended hands-free, eyes-free mode. In the study, researchers asked subjects to drive a closed course while they held an iPhone or Android phone in one hand, spoke messages into Siri or Vlingo, proofread the messages visually, and pressed buttons to send the messages. Under these conditions, driver response times were delayed by nearly a factor of two, the researchers found. 'Of course your driving performance is going to be degraded if you're reading screens and pushing buttons,' says Cheyer, who joined Apple in 2010 as part of the Siri acquisition and left the company two years later. To study whether voice-to-text apps are really safer than manual texting, he says, the Texas researchers should have tested Siri and Vlingo in car mode, where a Bluetooth headset or speakers are used to minimize visual and manual interaction. 'The study seems to have misunderstood how Siri was designed to be used,' Cheyer says. 'I don't think that there is any evidence that shows that if Siri and other systems are used properly in eyes-free mode, they are 'just as risky as texting.''"

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They're doing it wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595587)

I'm sure a couple of other posters will point that out :)

Re:They're doing it wrong! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43595779)

Yes, most people drive while in the brain-free mode. Self driving cars can't come soon enough.

Re:They're doing it wrong! (-1, Flamebait)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#43596307)

They're doing it right. Apparently, like Obama giving his "good friend" telecom lobbyist the FCC post, letting Texas A&M Transportation Institute do a study (pardon for using the "S" word) about texting in the driving environment produced findings they wanted. Why not, we close our eyes and mouths and Obama gets what he wants.
Speak amongst yourselves, I'm feeling Verklempt....

Re:They're doing it wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596455)

Umm. When did this post become political? There are websites for those kind of discussions, please take them there.

apk is a troll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595627)

apk is a troll

"proofread the messages visually" (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#43595633)

Really all you need to know.

Re:"proofread the messages visually" (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#43595641)

Well I guess in addition to everything else you need to know to lead a productive and successful life, as well as the context of this article.

one more distraction while driving (5, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year ago | (#43595687)

I thought it has been long established through research that even a hands free cradle talking on the phone is a dangerous distraction while driving, Can't see how this can be less of a distraction than that even if it is better than manual texting. People have enough accidents without additional distractions.

Re:one more distraction while driving (4, Insightful)

prelelat (201821) | about a year ago | (#43595823)

Yes and talking to someone in the car is distracting too. So is having kids kicking you in the back of the seat, changing radio stations. Billboards with flashy lights are distracting or they wouldn't have them. Oh I'm sure I'm missing a few more things.

My point is, is that there are a ton of distracting things going on around us as we barrel down the road. The question is, is one more safe than the other. It would be logical that if you can speak to the device instead of type it would be safer. Having your head down and hand off the wheel or if your driving a standard no hand on the wheel or some form of wtf. Having these studies are important for trying to understand how safe something is so we can judge if it's within an acceptable margin. I think texting manually falls into being unsafe and I don't want to share the road with people that are doing it.

It would appear speaking into Siri or other applications that do speech to text hasn't been studied enough to make a final decision, but I think it's going to end up OK. This study is a piece of garbage though and falls into bad research, as the software wasn't used as intended in the car.

Re:one more distraction while driving (0)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43595929)

My anecdotal evidence is that i should focus on piloting my vehicle and not fiddling with gadgets, and I frickin love gadgets.

Re:one more distraction while driving (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43595937)

Yes and talking to someone in the car is distracting too.

Actually, its not that distracting.

Other people in the car are aware of traffic conditions, they actually stop talking, they even point out dangerous situations (even fi from the back seat). Talking to a person in the passenger seat may actually be beneficial to driver safety.

Having a conversation on the phone, that requires concentration, can certainly be distracting, but even the simplest text message is far more distracting. All of the tests of this kind of stuff were done asking people to solve simple math problems or word games on the phone while driving over a challenging course in an unfamiliar vehicle.

Yaking on the bluetooth about nothing in particular while stuck in stop and go traffic simply isn't that dangerous as long as its hands free. The studies suggesting talking on the phone (hands free) is dangerous simply isn't born out by accident statistics. Texting while driving is born out by accident statistics.

Re:one more distraction while driving (4, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about a year ago | (#43596067)

It depends on the person talking too. 2 kids, or 2 individuals that have never driven, are likely to not be paying the kind of attention needed to give that feedback, while 2 experienced drivers will.

Just pay attention already. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595957)

It would appear speaking into Siri or other applications that do speech to text hasn't been studied enough to make a final decision, but I think it's going to end up OK. This study is a piece of garbage though and falls into bad research, as the software wasn't used as intended in the car.

The only valid study would evaluate the software being used as it is typically used, regardless of the manufacturers intent.

Re:Just pay attention already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596103)

'The study seems to have misunderstood how Siri was designed to be used,' Cheyer says.

You're holding it wrong

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#43596023)

It's only logical if the facts support it.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#43596211)

Humans are inherently unsafe behind the wheel and I look forward to computers either aiding us or taking full control soon.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year ago | (#43596279)

I think from memory (though happy to be corrected) is that the difference was found that people in the car interacting are at least aware of the current situation whereas someone on the phone has no awareness whatsoever of the conditions you are speaking in and may distract you at the worst possible moment whereas at least someone in a car has some vague awareness of the dangers, Radio is passive and yeah kids are probably also a huge distraction but that doesn't mean you should just automatically say fuck it we may as well provide an even greater amount of risk to those in and around you as we can't control everything. You control what you can, and this distraction is certainly unnecessary and easily avoided.

Re:one more distraction while driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596347)

Nonsense. Kids in the car, and speaking to people in the car, have been found far safer. Othe people in the car, even kids, notify you of other issues around the car and are aware of the environment and when to shut up.

I've tried Vlingo and Siri in the car, They're as bad, or worse, than using the phone.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596449)

It doesn't matter how the software was intended to be used, only how the software will be used.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#43596593)

Some countries require that all street side signage be submitted for approval and if too large or distracting they are banned. Your point is, if you have a 'FEW' distracting things going on what is the problem with adding even more, I think you have pointed out the flaw in your thinking, your are adding more distraction, which further degrades driving attention. As for those tests, they are specifically tests, not day to day distracted driving and lack all of your existing distractions to show the additional burdens for attention.

The crazy bat shit logic of somehow adding new problems auto-magically eliminates other problems rather than compounding them and making them far worse. One hopes you become a victim of your statistic and see how your opinion changes.

Re:one more distraction while driving (2)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#43595909)

I think the complaint is based on the perception that visual distraction is way worse than any other form of distraction while driving. The problem of course, is that we know that visual processing is not the only inhibitor.

Think of all the times you almost caused an accident when emotionally distressed for example. I can name a dozen easily, where I was so (insert emotional state like angry, excited, sad) where I simply lost focus on the road. Talking while driving may invoke a similar emotional responses, even if a service is translating the speak to text.

That example out of the way, there are numerous other situations where I have been similarly distracted. Thinking about a problem I needed to solve, sometimes coming up with that solution while driving.

So I agree with the person that visual distraction bad, but he neglects the fact that visual distraction is not the only distraction people face while driving.

Re:one more distraction while driving (0)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about a year ago | (#43596209)

Something else that was established through long-standing research was all the discrete software that makes up Siri. Quoting Wikipedia, bad form but meh:

Siri is a spin-out from the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center, and is an offshoot of the DARPA-funded CALO project.[35][36]

So Siri's "marketer" is much more accurate than "creator". Moreover it's really stealing the credit of someone else's collaborative and state-funded work. - You can build your own Siri-like platform as weekend project or two since it's based on FOSS.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about a year ago | (#43596273)

...and in belated review my form was badder than it should. Point still stands.

"In the first four years of the project, CALO-funded research has resulted in more than five hundred publications across all fields of artificial intelligence. "
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CALO [wikipedia.org]

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

waderoush (1271548) | about a year ago | (#43596303)

Do your homework, please. Adam Cheyer was one of the lead investigators at SRI on the CALO project before the contextual-search technology was married with voice-to-text and text-to-voice technology and spun out as Siri.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about a year ago | (#43596619)

I did it on the CALO project when Siri first hit the news. - He appears to be the lead for SRI's contribution to the CALO project. I don't know the extent of that contribution.

Re:one more distraction while driving (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about a year ago | (#43596377)

Yep. Talking with other people in the car should be illegal. Music should be illegal, remove radios from cars. In fact, GPS are also distracting, take em away!

Re:one more distraction while driving (1, Interesting)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#43596397)

The sound quality coming from other people in the car is great. The sound quality from your phone is compartively terrible. Your brain has to do a lot of extra work to parse language coming from a low-quality source, which impairs your ability to drive. I would be interested in a comparison between talking on the phone and listening to AM talk radio.

Holding it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595691)

Once again we come to this type of confusion because people keep holding their iPhones wrong.

You're holding it wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595693)

I mean, that's what this really comes down to isn't it? The user is 'using' the device in a way the designers didn't think very hard about.

Distraction. (2, Insightful)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a year ago | (#43595701)

When you're driving you should be concentrating on driving, that's it, anything else can lead to an accident because your mind is not on the task at hand.

So, no, you shouldn't be pissing about sending texts, if you don't like it, get a bus/train where you can text to your hearts delight.

If you're so f**kin important that you need to text, then get a chauffeur.

Re:Distraction. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595811)

Sure, gramps. So you never listen to the radio, eat/drink, talk to any passengers, look at anything but the road, etc? Riiiight.

Re:Distraction. (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43596031)

People un-used to city traffic probably DO have to concentrate 100% on driving.

However this is not the norm for most people. You can drive down the freeway in light to moderate traffic and not have much of your conscious brain involved at all. You can arrive at your destination and not recall a single thing about the trip.

In anything but rush hour traffic or high density traffic on a crowded freeway, driving simply isn't that difficult. If it was, we wouldn't hand out driving licenses to anyone with a pulse. Because an awfully large percentage of people just don't have 100% to devote to the task.

There are times when everyone has to pay attention. But the vast majority of my driving, and probably most people's driving, can be managed almost automatically, leaving plenty of time to listen to the radio, or the person on the next seat, or the person on the bluetooth.

Anyone who claims you have to devote 100% of your faculties to driving probably doesn't drive much.

Re:Distraction. (5, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | about a year ago | (#43596267)

I'll agree that most of a trip you feel like you're on autopilot the problem arises when something unexpected happens. If you have your eyes off the road when that unexpected happens you're a lot worse off than had you been paying attention. So yeah if you get to your destination safely then you can look back and say man that didn't take any conscious effort at all but that's not why you need to pay attention. You need to be on your toes for when something novel or out of the ordinary happens.

Re:Distraction. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43596359)

Yes, exactly. This is why touchscreen controls in automobiles are a terrible idea, and more to the point, why using anything that cannot be operated almost entirely by feel is a terrible idea. Texting, of course, is one of the most extreme examples of that problem, because the amount of time you have to spend looking at the screen in order to actually read a block of text for correctness is significantly greater than the time it takes to choose an option from a familiar menu or find the volume control "buttons" on a screen.

IMO, there are only two options here: a HUD that lets your eyes stay focused on the road while glancing at the text, or cars that drive themselves. Anything else as a "solution" for the texting-while-driving-is-unsafe problem is pretty much doomed to failure, whether it is speech recognition or mechanical keyboards, because the error rate will always be too high for anyone to trust sending it without reading it first.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596563)

IMO, there are only two options here: a HUD that lets your eyes stay focused on the road while glancing at the text. . .

Focusing on somthing and glancing away are mutually exclusive. Moreover, the mere act of thinking about something other than navigating the immediate environment is a dangerous distraction. Not dangerous enough to guarantee that you will crash, but dangerous insofar as any distraction, no matter how minor, can cause a crash in a situation where the absence of said distraction would allow the crash to be avoided.

There are seldom good technical solutions to behavioral problems. Elective distraction while driving is a behavioral problem.

Re:Distraction. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43596663)

Focusing on somthing and glancing away are mutually exclusive.

Not at all. A properly designed HUD doesn't require your eyes to change focus. From the driver's perspective, you would be looking out at infinity and would still be able to read the text superimposed over what you're seeing out the window.

Moreover, the mere act of thinking about something other than navigating the immediate environment is a dangerous distraction.

Yes, but that is equally true whether you're parsing a text message or are formulating a counterargument to a particularly compelling discussion on talk radio. The only thing that makes text messaging unique is the fact that your eyes have to leave the road. Period. Remove that, and you've removed the only valid reason for text messaging bans other than ludditism.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596763)

Not at all. A properly designed HUD doesn't require your eyes to change focus. From the driver's perspective, you would be looking out at infinity and would still be able to read the text superimposed over what you're seeing out the window.

You are not supposed to be looking out at infinity when you are driving. You are supposed to be scanning in all directions (using mirrors where nec.) for hazards at all times. HUDs have never been "properly" designed to provide safe access to trivial distractions. They could be useful for intended distraction, such as warning of hazards that may be hard to aquire by human vision alone and require immediate priority.

Yes, but that is equally true whether you're parsing a text message or are formulating a counterargument to a particularly compelling discussion on talk radio. The only thing that makes text messaging unique is the fact that your eyes have to leave the road. Period. Remove that, and you've removed the only valid reason for text messaging bans other than ludditism.

The true "ludditism" is the refusal to recognize that the more that distracted driving is studied, the more it is clear that thinking about anything other than driving is a hazard. Distraction by radio is bad enough as it is.

Not to mention the luddite-esque irony of using a telephone to compose written messages.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596277)

You're mostly right.
If nothing abnormal happens then driving on 'autopilot' in traffic or not won't cause fuckups.
As soon as something unexpected happens (an animal or kid runs in to the road, you blow a tire, someone tries to merge in to your car's volume) and you're on autopilot you're fucked.
It really is not that driving is hard, paying attention to be ready for the unexpected event is hard. It doesn't matter whether you're screwing with the car stereo or your phone, not being aware of what's going on around you is the problem.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596453)

You're forgetting a key point. A visually distracted driver can't react as quickly as someone who already has eyes on the road. Visual 'awareness' is absolutely a requirement for anyform of responsible driving. That would be the primary reason they don't hand out licenses to folks that are blind or people with vision problems who haven't corrected them with a prescription.

If a person is distracted visually and not even paying attention to the road, they will potentially be delayed seconds, or possibly never even see the risk. When you're moving at 45, 55, or higher speeds, 2 seconds can easily result in an avoided accident. It's a very long time in relative terms.

This is the point I suspect the original parent was speaking to. Drivers are always distracted, but they typically can keep their eyes on the road while having a conversation and their hands on the wheel.

A study that pretends to test voice to text features, voice control, etc, but still requires someone to mimic non voice activities like pushing buttons and reading text from a screen is just a wasted study pretending to do something new when they have only done yet another study about texting while driving.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596305)

Anyone who claims you have to devote 100% of your faculties to driving probably doesn't drive much.

I'll go even further and claim that it requires more than 100% of the faculties of 100% of people to truly drive responsibly (as in prioritizing the lives of others and fully accounting for the societal costs of ones own untimely demise). There are 10+ million auto-related accidents and tens of thousands of people killed on the road every year in the US. I'd venture to say that almost all can be avoided by people a) driving more slowly and b) paying more attention.

Americans have simply been conditioned to tolerate this carnage because automobiles are a huge driver of consumption, and increasingly a venue for consumption (of food, entertainment and advertising).

Re:Distraction. Or freeway? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#43596403)

Um, what's a freeway?

I live in Seattle and I rarely drive on I-5, and even then just for one stop or two.

Where we're going we don't need freeways.

It's illegal to drive without being conscious of road conditions.

As in pull over, turn off ignition, stop driving illegal.

Re:Distraction. (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#43596417)

People can get away pretty well navigating a road in light traffic, staying in the lane, and avoiding hitting other cars, which are large and easy to track and avoid without much attention. Which is all well and good until they hit pedestrians and cyclists.

Re:Distraction. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596443)

As a paramedic, let me point out that you're perhaps the four hundredth person I've known who took that attitude. I just hope that you're more fortunate than the majority of these.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595881)

If you're so f**kin important that you need to text, then get a chauffeur.

A chauffeur does not make someone "important".

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596167)

A chauffeur does not make someone "important".

Now, a butler, on the other hand, or a Japanese Maid, big difference...

Re:Distraction. (2)

Ironchew (1069966) | about a year ago | (#43595973)

if you don't like it, get a bus/train where you can text to your hearts delight.

Among numerous other reasons, this is why we need a far more reliable public transportation system (The nearest bus stop where I live is almost 3 miles away and it only gets service once a day). If buses and trains were commonplace, law enforcement could penalize reckless/distracted driving far more harshly and the number of drivers texting while driving would quickly approach zero.

Re:Distraction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596075)

Among numerous other reasons, this is why we need a far more reliable public transportation system (The nearest bus stop where I live is almost 3 miles away and it only gets service once a day). If buses and trains were commonplace, law enforcement could penalize reckless/distracted driving far more harshly and the number of drivers texting while driving would quickly approach zero.

Move to a city? Most small cities these days have abundant public transportation.

Re:Distraction. (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about a year ago | (#43596227)

I tried this once with a local bus system. Two hours to anywhere in town... two hours back. Ok if you're a hobo, but kind of rough on working folk.

I wish it wasn't so... I hate driving.

Re:Distraction. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43596231)

The nearest bus stop where I live is almost 3 miles away and it only gets service once a day

So you want the bus to run empty for three dozen trips a day just in case you decide to take it?

Re:Distraction. (1)

pollarda (632730) | about a year ago | (#43596389)

I'd gladly buy a bus or train.... It's just that they are so much more expensive.
Wouldn't crashing a bus or train though while texting be so much more catastrophic than when driving a car?

Pros AND Cons (2, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43595703)

they both exist. I can only speak for myself and people I know who have used voice commands while driving, however EVERYONE, myself included, will speak to their phone for the text, HOWEVER we all double check the msg before hitting send. I think that is where the issue lies. we simply dont trust siri or google voice or other text to type things to be 100% yet. and until that can be true (if it can ever be) it will never be as safe as simply driving and not doing other things.

Re:Pros AND Cons (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43595805)

Wait, can't siri read the text back to you before sending it?

Re:Pros AND Cons (4, Informative)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about a year ago | (#43595927)

Siri reads back the text by default if you're in the eyes-free mode. But her text-to-speech isn't always easy to understand, so it's hard to tell sometimes if she got it right.

Re:Pros AND Cons (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#43596415)

Siri reads back the text by default if you're in the eyes-free mode. But her text-to-speech isn't always easy to understand, so it's hard to tell sometimes if she got it right.

This is why I change Siri from a woman speaking to a man speaking in a deep Scottish accent. Makes it much clearer.

she? (0)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#43596741)

She? Really? That's some revolutionary magical ridiculousness.

Once speech-to-text-to-speech becomes more common (1, Insightful)

admdrew (782761) | about a year ago | (#43595705)

I don't really agree with this guy, based on how texting is currently done. Most of us like reading their texts (or proofreading speech-to-texts), and few of us use text-to-speech, so the "eyes free" situation really isn't that common. I *really* don't think that using "Siri is just as risky as texting" is misleading at all, in our current accepted usage.

It doesn't matter how Siri was designed (1)

rs1n (1867908) | about a year ago | (#43595725)

The research is still valid in the sense that most people probably have no idea about "car mode" and "no-eyes" mode. That said, even if you were to consider only those who are aware of such features as your test subjects, I wonder if the data would be any different (provided the test subjects are not explicitly told they must use no-eyes mode and car-mode). I know that if car-mode and no-eyes mode puts many restrictions on Siri, then (for me), Siri would not be as useful.

Re:It doesn't matter how Siri was designed (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43596275)

The research is still valid in the sense that most people probably have no idea about "car mode" and "no-eyes" mode.

Hmmm, seems a little shallow to claim the research is valid when it blames the device for ignorance of the operator.

The real problem is something like 60 or 70% of the people have given up on SIRI all together because it just doesn't work all that well.

"Designed to be used" vs. "actually used" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595751)

If the study tested Siri the way Siri is normally used, then how Siri was designed to be used is irrelevant.

Re:"Designed to be used" vs. "actually used" (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about a year ago | (#43595913)

"Those bastards at the military, they took it and... and they twisted it! My invention was intended only for peaceful purposes, and they turned it into a weapon!"

Re:"Designed to be used" vs. "actually used" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596369)

Which is why Peter Hagelstein (who was the last credible voice spouting the cold fusion nonsense) lost his shot at tenure. If you work on X-ray lasers, they're *going* to be used for military reserch, and his work never *did* show any usefulness for medical research. Too expensive, and too dangerous to living tissue.

Re:"Designed to be used" vs. "actually used" (1)

skine (1524819) | about a year ago | (#43596705)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdhwTXwhA4c [youtube.com]

Professor: It works! It works!

*car drives into hangar, stops, and passengers get out*

President: Professor?
Professor: You should not be here! This is private property!

*Professor turns around*

Professor: Mr. President! I'm so sorry.
President: Ah, good evening professor. This is Major Agnew. Major Agnew, Professor.
Professor: Mr. President, this is indeed an honor. I had no idea.
President: Well, our country has been pouring a lot of money into this secret research of yours. I thought we should find out what we've been paying for.
Professor: Indeed. It so happens you are here just in time. Mr. President, Major Agnew, I do not think you will be disappointed. Behold then! The Giant Death Ray!

*dramatic unveiling, Professor turns device on on*

President: Well I'll be!
Agnew: Professor, is that a laser?
Professor: Yes, Major Agnew, the Giant Death Ray is indeed a laser. And now perhaps you'll be so good as to place this simple tin of peaches into the path of my laser's beam.
Agnew: What!?
President: Do it, Major.
Professor: Please.

*Grimacing, Agnew places the tin of peaches in front of the laser*

*beep*

Professor: Gentlemen, the price of those peaches has just been ascertained electronically, and stored in the information banks of my Giant Death Ray. And thank you. Any questions.
Agnew: Well, one question obviously leaps to mind, Professor... uh... Professor...?
Professor: Death.
Agnew: ...Professor Death, is why on Earth you elected to name this contraption of yours the Giant Death R- oh I see.
President: Professor Death.
Professor: Mr. President.
President: I have a question. This laser of yours...
Professor: Death Ray, yes.
President: If you were to increase the intensity of its beam...
Professor: Yes, intensity, yes.
President: Could your Death Ray not also be used to...
Professor: Perform delicate eye surgery!? Yes!
President: No, what I'm asking Professor, is might this Death Ray not also have some, well, military application?
Professor: Giant Death Ray? A military application?
President: Yes.
Professor: Oh, yes, of course. A military application. Yes, I, why, I'll just go check.

*Professor grabs hammer, and starts pounding on the Giant Death Ray*

Professor: No!
Agnew: Professor Death!
President: Professor Death, you're destroying it!
Professor: Forgive me Mr. President, but I am a man of science not of war! I intended the Giant Death Ray to be used for good, not evil!

Re:"Designed to be used" vs. "actually used" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596373)

Like knives? Come on.

Obviously it's relevant, in deciding whether to *ban the tool completely*, to determine whether it was used as intended.

Otherwise we should ban knives, baseball bats, coffee mugs, and anything else that can be used as a weapon.

Note: I hate Apple. But what I hate more is people making blanket rules to enforce common sense.

Re:"Designed to be used" vs. "actually used" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596755)

People normally use knifes for cutting up food, so a blanket ban on knifes would be stupid. The question is, did the study test how people normally use Siri, or do people normally use Siri like its creator thinks they should. If people normally use Siri in a way that is distracting, then a blanket ban on using it while driving is appropriate because the risks outweigh the benefits. If people actually had common sense and could be trusted not to do stupid things while driving, then perhaps the ban wouldn't be necessary, sadly that isn't the case.

Driving Performance (5, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43595757)

Of course your driving performance is going to be degraded if you're reading screens and pushing buttons,'

See, shit like this is why the Prophet Hicks was so adamant in his belief that advertising people should do the world a favor and kill themselves.

FYI, asshole, it's an issue because humans cannot multitask, and every second you pay attention to that goddamn toy is one more second you're not paying attention to the road.

Perhaps Mr. My-Sales-Figures-Are-More-Important-Than-Your-Safety should read the stacks upon stacks of other studies that prove any distraction from driving is dangerous. Even talking to the guy in the passenger seat. [teendriversource.org]

Re:Driving Performance (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#43595791)

Actually, men cannot multitask, women are famous with this and some other "features", unlike men.

Re:Driving Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595995)

I don't think women are that much better at multitasking when driving.

I personally think that some people can learn to multitask while driving - just takes a lot of practice. You can set up a controlled environment - driving a difficult route on a simulator while texting replies to various questions - and having a time limit to reply and reach the destination.

Any driver who can do that reliably and consistently is probably a safer driver than most people on the road including me.

Re:Driving Performance (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#43596083)

Actually, i am speaking from scientific point of view. It is proven fact that women could do many things (up to 5) in the same time. That's why they are so good drivers. Also they don't need to turn left and right as their peripheral vision is pretty good, there are recorded cases of women with 180 degrees peripheral vision, believe it or not.
Do you need more facts why women are better drivers than men :D

Re:Driving Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596247)

That must explain why they're always looking in the rear view mirror and adjusting their makeup while driving.

Re:Driving Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596487)

No, woman are better drivers statistically because they CAUSE accidents by being bad drivers. They just never stop and admire the effects of their ignorance of real driving environments.

Re:Driving Performance (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#43596759)

Thats why women are statistically in more accidents per mile driven vs men. If you want to try to speak about scientific points of view please use the correct data sets.

Re:Driving Performance (3, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#43596331)

Actually, women don't perform any better than men at multitasking. Within both sexes, about 2-5% can really multitask, and everyone else basicly sucks at it. It's just that somehow upbringing and social roles allow women to still try multitasking and be content with the less-than-average productivity and quality.

Re:Driving Performance (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#43596437)

Actually, women don't perform any better than men at multitasking. Within both sexes, about 2-5% can really multitask, and everyone else basicly sucks at it. It's just that somehow upbringing and social roles allow women to still try multitasking and be content with the less-than-average productivity and quality.

I think the commenter is confusing the correct sentence: Women have more lifetime experience in multitasking with multiple conflicting voice inputs

With the incorrect sentence: Women can multitask safely.

Multitasking doesn't work. Women are just better at handling it, due to constant lifelong experience. But it does impact their driving skills.

Re:Driving Performance (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43596089)

it's an issue because humans cannot multitask...

Wholly untrue. Or do you think most humans are incapable of even walking and chewing at the same time?

Re:Driving Performance (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#43596283)

...humans cannot multitask

They can, up to the point they bite on the gristle in the quarter pounder (royale with cheese) and decide the fries taste like they were fried in pus freshly squeezed from a pimple. At that point there is no alternative to texting your friends about your sorry fate and dying in a fiery explosion.

Co-inventor? WTF? (1, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#43595767)

If you did invent 50% of the app, you could claim the "co-invent" title, but if it is about 0.0000000....1%, are you a thief or "co"-inventor?

Wasted, totally wasted, or blotto (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#43595841)

The comparison should really be based on how drivers actually behave while texting or using hands-free Siri.

My sister thinks she's safe when she drives hands-free with Bluetooth enabled voice cell in her Prius.

But she weaves and drifts while driving.

If she were texting, it would be bad.

It's the difference between being Wasted (hands-free Siri, due to mental distraction, and occassional looking at display), Totally wasted (normal cell phone while driving), and Blotto (texting while driving).

You're still a menace to society, and we'd be better off if you had only downed two shots of vodka instead.

More astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43595857)

Given those company's habits of telling their own employees to pop up on message boards and espouse the services, saying how great they are for hands-free use but carefully avoiding saying the words "while driving" and trying to drive down any negative reviews that popped up, and their colorfully fictional growth charts, is it any wonder they'd pretend they're not dangerous on the road?

Real world use? (1)

fafaforza (248976) | about a year ago | (#43595941)

Sure, ideally you'd never look at the screen. But are we sure most people wouldn't proofread messages and manually press send once happy? Maybe the study looked at what most people would consider voice-to-text, and how this form of VTT would affect driving.

Consider pilots and radios (0)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#43595955)

Pilots are able to do many tasks while talking on the radio to many other aircraft and ground stations. I'm talking about even private pilots in 'bug smasher' aircraft - just just commercial pilots and military aviators.

As long as you are hands free and looking at the road I personally think that the burden of talking on a 'hands free' phone setup is no worse than talking to a passenger or listening to the radio. If ordinary folks can manage to fly aircraft and listen and talk (and mostly not crash) then prohibiting people talking (hands free) while driving seems like overcaution and resistance to change.

I'm sure there at the low end of the skill spectrum (those easily task saturated, eg. my mother :) ) are those that can't talk and drive, but they should be banned from having radio and passengers too - yet doing so seems ridiculous, yes? the restrictions on hands-free calls also seem ridiculous when seen in the same light, yes?

Flyingg != Driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596107)

Pilots are able to do many tasks while talking on the radio to many other aircraft and ground stations. I'm talking about even private pilots in 'bug smasher' aircraft - just just commercial pilots and military aviators.

There is no comparison between the obstacles that the typical pilot must navigate and the obstacles that the typical automobile driver must navigate.

. . . prohibiting people talking (hands free) while driving seems like overcaution and resistance to change.

Its not a resistance to change. It is a reaction to observed experience and emerging knowledge.

Re:Consider pilots and radios (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#43596165)

Pilots and radios are completely different.

1, it is task oriented. You are not gabbing about grocery lists, or where Ralph in accounting left the Finster file.
2. It is a half-duplex conversation. Your brain is not engaged in listening for the other person to say something, until you release the mic button.

The bloody ignorance (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#43595991)

If you handle a gun, your priority is safety. Your safety and that of others. That is your first priority and the own priority.
Traffic is dangerous too, so it's the same there.
If your bloody text messages are so important that it can't wait 10 minutes, you better be so bloody important that you can afford a driver.
Of not, your focus on the traffic.

Re:The bloody ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596281)

Of not, your focus on the traffic.

derp.

THIS IS GOAT5EX (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596011)

lube Is, wiped off

too bad studies have proven otherwise (5, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about a year ago | (#43596013)

Merely having a conversation with someone impacts your driving; passengers tend to be aware of circumstances like intersections, onramps, cyclists, etc - but people on the other end of your call can't be. It's why Ray Lahood and NHTSA wanted cell phone calls by drivers to end, period. Then there's the issue of control of the car; regardless of whether or not you're "eyes free", if you're holding something in you hand, you're not able to control your vehicle as well as you can with two hands on the wheel. I attended a driving handling clinic (which was insanely fun) where they had you do a slalom course normally, and then do it holding a water bottle to the side of your head; the results speak for themselves.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43596301)

Under nominal and expected driving conditions, where speed is relatively constant, and one is not performing any kind of maneuver which may involve negotiating with unpredictable traffic flow, the task of driving, at least by an experienced driver, does not require any significant amount of concentration, and so engaging in conversation would not be so distracting as to endanger anyone.

If you can walk in a straight line and chew food at the same time, and if you are already otherwise a competent driver, then at least under ideal conditions, you can probably also drive and talk to somebody on a hands-free cell at the same time as well.

Now I'm aware that not every situation is deal... but a driver who's actually otherwise competent should be able to recognize those situations the instant that they arise, and wouldn't try to talk to somebody else during such moments anyways.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596363)

If you can walk in a straight line and chew food at the same time, and if you are already otherwise a competent driver, then at least under ideal conditions, you can probably also drive and talk to somebody on a hands-free cell at the same time as well.

I bet you couldn't recall all the times in your life when you stumbled or inadvertently bumped into something while walking in a straight line, even without chewing food at the same time.

Unpredictable things, are by nature, unpredictable. If you concede that unpredictable situations require an undistracted driver, the responsible driver must never be needlessly distracted. "Probably" is a fine standard when the worst possible outcome is stubbing your toe. It doesn't cut it when engaging in a completely frivolous activity may result in the deaths of others.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43596435)

I bet you couldn't recall all the times in your life when you stumbled or inadvertently bumped into something while walking in a straight line

No... but then that's because I'm physically extremely clumsy.

I was regularly walking right head on into walls until I was about 7.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (1)

fish waffle (179067) | about a year ago | (#43596423)

Under nominal and expected driving conditions...

And that's where everything goes wrong. You know, under "normal and expected conditions" there isn't any dogshit on the sidewalk, but guess what?

I'm aware that not every situation is deal... but a driver who's actually otherwise competent should be able to recognize those situations the instant that they arise..

Unless of course they're busy with whatever else they do under "normal and expected conditions." Switching attention takes time---there's a reason why sprinters are not chatting on the phone right up until they hear the starting gun.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43596561)

Such situations are generally far more anticipatable by an experienced driver than you give them credit for... In the relatively few instances where they are not, and I'm speaking from personal experience here, not happening to be using a cell phone at the time doesn't tend to make such an imminent situation more preventable.

Disengaging from a conversation to do something else that you were not otherwise planning to do should take no more time than doing what you were going to do anyways... you just stop talking or listening.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#43596429)

It is not that the other people in the car are paying attention, it is that the sound quality is so much worse from your phone that your brain has to devote much more attention to parsing language.

Re:too bad studies have proven otherwise (1)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#43596651)

Is there a study that backs this assertion up?

That b***ch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596113)

That b***ch! Women are always arguing about something; Siri's no different...

But get on her bad side, and it's off a cliff you go! Paper maps are the best,
plus they don't sas you, either.

Screw you (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#43596119)

I don't care how Siri was 'designed to be used'. I care abut how it actually works in practice.
Do people actually look at the screen? Yes.
Is it stable enough and good enough that people actually trust it to not screw up the text? No.

I may be a biased commentator, but I am currently on the hunt for a replacement vehicle specifically because of a texting driver. Luckily, I am still vertical and breathing.

Re:Screw you (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about a year ago | (#43596321)

While I was one of the first to criticize the "You're holding it wrong" response from Apple, in this situation, he does hold some validity. Sure, if you are using the hands-on mode, it is just as dangerous, but if there are driving oriented controls, it should at least be mentioned in the study that they exist but were explicitly disregarded. Who knows if those in the study would have used that mode if they weren't explicitly told how to use the device in the study. I have no idea how Siri works or what its UI is like. If there isn't some easily visible item somewhere to activate the car mode then that is a problem on their end that needs correcting.

In the end, I suppose this means that they need to push the car mode or whatever they're calling it more than they have been to get people in the habit of using it instead of the hands-on mode.

two solutions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43596121)

1) Don't use your cell phone when driving (this tends to be hard for most people).

2) Cars must drive themselves.

In the modern era it seems that people are incapable of driving themselves.

Test how it is used, debug code, not comments (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43596499)

Always test it as it is being used by the users. Not the way it is designed to be used by the designers. It does not matter what the designer thinks how it should be used. Testing it according to the design manual is like debugging software by stepping through the comments instead of looking at code.

Whistling and Pissing At The Same Time (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43596679)

As Hagbard Celine was wont to say, "if you whistle while you're pissing, you have two minds where one is quite sufficient. If you have two minds, you are at war with yourself. If you are at war with yourself, it is easy for an external force to defeat you. This is why Mong-Tse wrote, 'A man must destroy himself before others can destroy him.'"

So the elephant in the room... (1)

Loopy (41728) | about a year ago | (#43596745)

...is that voice-to-text software is so remarkably unreliable that nobody uses it without proofreading the output before sending. I think most people could have told you this without an official study.

And just for the obtuse, it isn't that it completely misunderstands everything you say, it's that when you're sending texts, the things it tends to fail to translate properly tend to be things that get your text posted to one of those autocorrect-joke sites. Or get you in trouble with the wife/husband/parents/boss.

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