This much we know: Apple’s Eyes Free feature will be implemented into the vehicles of nine different automakers, allowing drivers to access the Siri “voice assistant” on a connected iPhone by pressing a button on the steering wheel. Apple revealed the news at its Worldwide Developers Conference in early June, which caught some representatives at the nine automakers somewhat off guard.
After speaking with a few car-company contacts and surveying at least one you-can’t-have-it here European Siri application – along with examining an Apple patent for a steering wheel remote – we speculated on how Eyes Free might integrate into new and existing cars.
But one lingering question is how Siri Eyes Free will ride shotgun with the existing onboard voice-recognition technology included on many cars.
BMW recently announced a barrage of new features for its ConnectedDrive system, and also disclosed that it will be the first automaker to offer Nuance’s Dragon Drive cloud-based voice-recognition platform, beginning this month with the 2012 BMW 7 Series.
The marquee Nuance feature for ConnectedDrive is called Dragon Drive Messaging and allows recording a voice memo up to two minutes in length that can be sent either by SMS or e-mail using the BMW Office function. Dragon Drive will also allow the BMW Professional navigation system in the 7 Series to accept “one-shot” entries such as “Navigate to 123 Main Street, Los Angeles, California,” without pausing to separately enter the state, city and address. While we know most of what Siri offers, we’ll have to wait to see the extent of Dragon Drive’s features when it launches on the 7 Series.
To find out the how the two voice-rec systems will work and coexist, we spoke with the people at BMW responsible for making the pair of technologies play nicely together. “The two features are completely separate,” Peter Jablonski, BMW’s senior engineer for consumer electronics, told Wired. But they will share the same voice button on the steering wheel, he adds, contrary to initial reports that Eyes Free would get its own dedicated controller.
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