Friday, November 11, 2011

Future Society of the Non-Verbal

Texting and driving.

Do you own a landline phone? Have you considered getting rid of it and only using your cell phone? As technology continues to improve, we find ourselves abandoning old ideas and flocking to newer, more efficient methods of communication. Just look around and see if you spot anyone still rocking a pager or beeper.

That being said, it's no surprise that texting is quickly overshadowing the traditional phone call for many of us today, especially amongst younger generations, who are embracing it at younger and younger ages. Whereas a phone call typically requires one's full attention, focusing on conversation with one person, texting does not. It is faster, more convenient, and allows you to easily hold multiple conversations at once. We have gotten to the point where communicating via text message has become a social norm, and can even express emotion through this medium, thanks to emoticons.  :)

Unfortunately, the situation in which we are most likely to text also happens to be the worst for multi-tasking: driving.  Your eyes are taken off the road, and your likelihood of having an accident is 23 times as high compared to non-impaired drivers. 35 states have banned texting while driving, and there are even states that ban cell phone use in the car completely, due to the amount of injury and risk it presents!

Despite bans on texting while driving, many of us continue to be guilty of doing it, and end up weaving about our lanes in traffic, or speeding up and down erratically. That's a lot of potential danger just to get back to our friends and let them know that we aren't ignoring them.
Here are a couple ideas you can try out to keep you safer when driving:

1. Drive
This app for iPhone and Android offers a free as well as paid version. It allows you to set up an away message when you are driving, and auto responds to incoming texts. The app will also read incoming texts sent to you, so that you don't have to look at your phone.


2. Voice to text 
Most smartphones allow the user to press a button on their keypad which allows them to speak into their phone and translate their voice into a text message. While not perfect (the software doesn't always understand exactly what you're trying to communicate) it keeps your eyes more focused on the road, and not as much on your phone, worrying about typos or the auto-correct inputting something silly. The good news? Great strides are being made in voice recognition software, and continue to get better (just ask anyone who owns the newest iPhone and has used Siri).

Voice to text.

3. Hands free options (Entune)

Being able to utilize technology while keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road is the closest thing to a win-win situtation for both drivers and anti-texting advocacy groups. For that reason, an infotainment system such as Entune is recommended. You can check gas prices, weather, look up businesses on Bing, and use voice recognition to pull up directions. Toyota is also hoping to add full voice recognition functionality early in 2012  so that you will be able to send full e-mails and texts with your voice.
Entune is currently available on select vehicles, such as the Prius V, 2012 Camry, and 2012 Tacoma, with plans to become available in more vehicles next year. You can try out Entune by running the simulation online or by heading over to Lou Fusz Toyota and taking a test drive.


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