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Siri developer says texting-while-driving study is doing it wrong (study rep agrees)

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Siri developer says texting-while-driving study is doing it wrong (study rep agrees)
Recently a study came out that claimed voice command is just as dangerous as texting-while-driving. But, the creator of Siri thinks that the study was flawed and doesn't apply to Siri. He says that Siri is a truly safe alternative for hands-free, distraction-free control while driving. The study was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University, but Siri co-creator Adam Cheyer says the study wasn't done right.

According to Cheyer, researchers of the study asked drivers to use Siri improperly, leading to instances where the drivers had to read the screen which shouldn't have happened. He says the researchers seem "to have misunderstood how Siri was designed to be used." Going on to say:
Of course your driving performance is going to be degraded if you’re reading screens and pushing buttons.
The study didn't use Siri's car mode by admission of TTI representative Christine Yager. Had the study used Siri's car mode, Cheyer says that almost all of the instances of drivers needing to look at the screen or press a button would have been eliminated. In car mode, "Siri is even stricter and will not execute certain commands that would require looking at a screen", says Cheyer. 

It sounds like TTI may need to recreate the study, because other voice command apps like Vlingo also offer car modes, so Siri may not be the only app being misrepresented in the study. 

source: Xconomy via BGR

12 Comments
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posted on 01 May 2013, 22:37 9

1. Dingy_cellar_dweller (Posts: 181; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


" but Siri co-creator Adam Cheyer says the study wasn't done right."

Reminds me when someone said "you're holding it wrong".

Now Apple dictates how independent bodies choose to conduct their research. Everyone will look at the screen, its just the natural thing to do.

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:56 1

7. Ivan6479 (Posts: 243; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


I do see where the guy is coming from because on my Galaxy when I use my dock if I turn on car mode it is a totally different experience than having it turned off. When it's turned on everything from text messages to callers names can be read out to me without the need of ever looking at the screen. So this test does sound bias.

posted on 02 May 2013, 10:43

11. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


The difference is that a representative from the study acknowledged that the study didn't use car mode like it probably should have.

I can understand the study showing the difference between using car mode and not, but to not use car mode at all is irresponsible.

posted on 03 May 2013, 17:08

12. ahhxd717 (Posts: 317; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)


Yeah, but to get more realistic data, research should be done in a realistic environment. I highly doubt every (or many at all) iPhone owner is gonna put Siri in car mode every time they go into a car so that in the chance they receive a text, it's more safe. This study was done using more realistic variables to get better data. We shouldn't skew methodological choices in order to get a favorable outcome, or what a company wants to hear.

posted on 01 May 2013, 22:38 1

2. quakan (Posts: 1143; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)


So basically the study was setup to make voice commands fail for safe driving, sounds like a fair study.

posted on 01 May 2013, 23:09 1

3. sprockkets (Posts: 1084; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


More information as to why they didn't use that mode:

"But the study was designed to examine the way drivers actually use smartphones in their cars, she said, not the ideal scenarios suggested by software makers or device manufacturers. “We tested the applications in a way that is consistent with how many drivers typically use them,” Yager said.

Many smartphone owners may not even know that Siri, Vlingo, and similar apps have an eyes-free mode, Yager added. “We examined the product information contained in the packaging for the iPhone 4S, and were not able to find information related to the directed mode use of the device,” she said. “The only somewhat relevant reference said, ‘Consider using a compatible hands-free device with iPhone. Use of a hands-free device may be required in some areas.’”"

posted on 02 May 2013, 00:14 4

4. Jurdiales (Posts: 111; Member since: 10 Oct 2012)


The title of this notice reminds me something that we already know: Texting while driving is stupid, is like driving with your eyes closed...

These problem doesn't need a study to corroborate a theory, for this problem we need to change our culture for NOT USING A FU#$^ PHONE WHILE DRIVING, that is really what we need, develop things like Siri, Google Voice for handsfree is minimizing the problem, the problem is still here, you're not focusing 100% on the road, and that's just wrong.

Just my opinion and excuse my English...

posted on 02 May 2013, 10:13

10. Bilpocalypse (Posts: 301; Member since: 13 Oct 2012)


Agreed. Texting while driving is stupid and people shouldn't do it. However, every time I hear the "don't use a phone while driving" comment, I'm reminded of other things that people do in their cars that are just as distracting: Eating & drinking, listening to the radio, talking to passengers, etc. I think that hands free should become the standard in all new cars being sold.

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:26 1

5. roscuthiii (Posts: 1785; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


This coming from a Siri developer is kind like a farmer telling me why high fructose corn syrup is part of a balanced diet. Rather take the word of a third-party without any vested interests.

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:27 3

6. JMartin22 (Posts: 713; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)


Checking the screen for voice dictation errors is kind of habitual. I don't know where this person gets off saying a tested and proven study is wrong, based on how the people react to their circumstances.

posted on 02 May 2013, 04:41

8. Dadler22 (Posts: 161; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


Didn't the guy who made siri get fired from apple?

well... this is awkward

posted on 02 May 2013, 09:43

9. techaman (unregistered)


this is very true only people that cant really drive have problems most people drive with one hand listen to music sing talk and do other things in cars with no problems, problems occur when old people get behind wheel and think they can still drive and forget what peddle to press its like having the 25mph speed on roads with joining roads at 35mph old ways not updated for current technology, highways and interstates have 55mph and that was great back 30 or 40 years ago now with brake assist and tire technology no one wants to update or change things look at german autobahn high speed with speeds in each lane no problems thats why bmw out perform most others. any drive mode with speech on a phone is like singing and listening to the radio and looking at rear view mirror.

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