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Siri To Power Mercedes-Benz Car Systems 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the siri-flip-that-guy-the-bird dept.
redletterdave writes "Mercedes-Benz unveiled plans on Monday to use Siri, Apple's AI personal assistant exclusive to the iPhone 4S, to power its electronics system called 'Drive Kit Plus,' which will essentially let drivers access their iPhone apps while driving using voice commands. With Siri, Mercedes drivers will have a hands-free solution to listen to music, change channels on the radio, send texts, or make calls. 'Drive Kit Plus' will also come pre-installed with a number of social networks, so drivers will even be able to update their Twitter accounts and post messages to Facebook. Siri will also be integrated with Garmin's GPS system, so drivers can navigate and get directions with simple voice commands. With this move, Mercedes-Benz earns the distinction of being the first carmaker to integrate Apple technology into its vehicles' in-car systems."
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Siri To Power Mercedes-Benz Car Systems

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  • Spock: "Fascinating" [ismashphone.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:13PM (#39179271)

    The world does not need more self-absorbed iPhone users talking to the wannabe AI in their phone.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:40PM (#39179663)

      The most interesting thing in this article for me is lifespan. If I buy a phone with a funky feature I expect that feature to be active for the life of the phone - two to five years. However, if I buy a car, I would expect that all the features keep working for the life of the car - which is a lot longer. What is going to happen if in five or ten years time, Apple decides that Siri wasn't the right direction and makes something else? It comes back to the old DRM needing to be supported for the life of the product. What would happen to all the cars with this embedded if the servers were turned off?

      Having said all that, something like Siri is probably the last thing I would want in a car, I am even discouraged by car commercials that offer "Built-in iPod docks" and the like. Too much lock-in for a specific product and brand.

      • by russ1337 (938915) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:58PM (#39179879)

        This is why the car should support *integration* with phones and not *duplicate* phones functionality. Connectivity should be in the most future-proof possible way. This could be mic and headphone jack, USB (for charging), & Bluetooth.

        Let the phone do the hard work and provide a means of integrating the phone.

        You might need to modularise the interface so it can be swapped out every few years as the 'standard' phone interfaces change.

        • by theurge14 (820596)

          People can do that now with existing cars. A single dock removes three cords and Bluetooth. I know that for you or others that's no big deal, but for many others a single dock is preferable.

          • by icebike (68054) * on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:43PM (#39180983)

            But the single dock only applies to Apple. Nobody else uses it.

            With Android now some 47% of the market [comscore.com] its time to start using a more standardized approach to this than relying on a single proprietary dock.

            It might be HDMI, or Bluetooth, USB, or something else. But it should be an industry standard.
            Ideally, I shouldn't have to take my phone out of my pocket when I get in the car, I should have phone, maps, and music all linked to the car automatically via something like Bluetooth 3.0 or something.

            Cars aren't the only thing that people will want to link to their phones. Houses and offices could use such an interface. Cables and docking are so yesterday.

            • by nabsltd (1313397)

              Ideally, I shouldn't have to take my phone out of my pocket when I get in the car, I should have phone, maps, and music all linked to the car automatically via something like Bluetooth 3.0 or something.

              You've pretty much described Ford's Sync, although since it's older tech it doesn't quite have everything.

              My phone stays in its holster and connects to the car via Bluetooth. This gives you full access to the phone (including contacts) via hands-free, and you can play any audio from the phone (music, etc.) over the vehicle sound system. There's also integration on many web sites (like Google maps) that allows you to send info to the car (like destinations for the navigation system) via your phone. Sync w

          • by russ1337 (938915)

            Rumor has it that the iphone 5 has a different dock connector......

            My previous post suggests a 'modularised' interface into the car. Think of a card that slides into the car that has the Cars interface on one side, and the phone interface on the other. - these can be changed / upgrade to support technologies as they evolve.

            The phone interface could be ANY of the following: iphone jack, andriod jack, windows phone jack, HDMI, Bluetooth X, Audio Jack, USB X, whatever - you chose when you buy the car and can p

            • I seriously doubt they'll change the dock connector. Almost all iDevice accessories for damn near 9 years still work with the newest. Everybody with one of those stereos or cars or whatevers would be out of luck - and after 10 years, that's a lot of devices. I question the wisdom of buying a device tied to a particular interface, but Apple's been incredibly successful at keeping it all going. They'd be nuts to throw that away.

        • by icebike (68054) *

          This is why the car should support *integration* with phones and not *duplicate* phones functionality. Connectivity should be in the most future-proof possible way. This could be mic and headphone jack, USB (for charging), & Bluetooth.

          Let the phone do the hard work and provide a means of integrating the phone.

          You might need to modularise the interface so it can be swapped out every few years as the 'standard' phone interfaces change.

          Excellent advice.

          And the same for Navigation systems. Factory Nav is always way over priced, hard to update, and obsolete by the time it rolls out the factory door.

          There needs to be (probably already is) an interface design spec where you simply plug in the device you want from Tom Tom, Garmin, or Magellan and it puts the devices display on the car's touch screen.

          But why would the auto makers do this when they can continue to charge you 2000 dollars for a nav system that cost them $150?

          • by nabsltd (1313397)

            But why would the auto makers do this when they can continue to charge you 2000 dollars for a nav system that cost them $150?

            Although the prices can be outrageous, there is a lot more physical cost than you imagine. A 9" touchscreen that has been somewhat ruggedized will probably cost more than $150.

        • The funny part is:
          Mercedes are planning to ditch their own efforts on voice control - a research that has been
          ongoing since the late 90s and has cost them untold billions - in order to replace it with a
          system that has less localization and (and this is the killer really) that needs to be on-line in
          order to actually process speech.

          I really do tend to like the Germans but they sure messed up on this one.

      • I'm totally with you on that one. Even if Siri and the relevant APIs or whatever Mercedes are using are still supported in a few years time, who is to say iPhone will still be as popular as it is now?

        I'd quite like tighter integration between my smartphone and car stereo for playing music, voice calls, satnav directions, etc, through the car speakers, but if I can actually be bothered to arrange that, I imagine it will be via Bluetooth. It's pretty well supported now on Android (presumably iOS too?) and
      • by Jesse_vd (821123)

        This isn't much different than every BMW and Mercedes made in the last 20 years with some kind of cell phone attachment. None of them will last forever, just long enough for the original owner to enjoy.

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        I am even discouraged by car commercials that offer "Built-in iPod docks" and the like.

        I don't follow car advertising or reviews too much, so this is mostly based upon the CNET car review video podcasts I see, and MAYBE a bit on Motorweek (I FF through most of that show though)..

        Anyway, from what I've seen, even if that dock is advertised, they seem to always have an AUX in, as well.

        • AUX in means you're using the phone's DAC, which is often shittier than the one in the car radio, due to size and power constraints.

          It'd much better if they implemented an USB sound card interface. It's standartized by the USB spec - which means a generic driver would work for any device - and it'd transmit the sound as a digital signal to the radio.

          • AUX in means you're using the phone's DAC, which is often shittier than the one in the car radio, due to size and power constraints.

            And while the engine is running and there's all that road noise you can't tell the difference anyway.

      • Mercedes sometimes stay in use for much longer than 10 yrs. I routinely see Mercedes on the road that are 20+ yrs old. What happens then?

      • The most interesting thing in this article for me is lifespan. If I buy a phone with a funky feature I expect that feature to be active for the life of the phone - two to five years. However, if I buy a car, I would expect that all the features keep working for the life of the car - which is a lot longer.

        People that buy new luxury cars also tend turn them over ~3 years or so.

        What is going to happen if in five or ten years time, Apple decides that Siri wasn't the right direction and makes something else? It

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      The world does not need more self-absorbed iPhone users talking to the wannabe AI in their phone.

      You say that now, but when they have flying cars, I'm certain you'll be all over that like 681 Chinese on an iPhone gas stove.

    • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

      I don't get this.
      Siri and the apps are running on the phone. The phone is in the car, most likely on the dashboard.
      So what keeps the user from talking directly to the phone?

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:21PM (#39180135)

      The world does not need more self-absorbed iPhone users talking to the wannabe AI in their phone.

      Haterade Addicts think about the iPhone more than Apple fanboys do.

  • Oh No (Score:5, Informative)

    by prichardson (603676) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:15PM (#39179287) Journal

    For me, Siri is unusable. I don't know if it's my voice or accent, but it rarely understands me, that is when the service is even up. A lot of the time, Siri is 'unavailable' presumably because Apple's servers are getting hammered by requests. I found the google voice recognition stuff to work a lot better. The only thing Siri has going for it is a rich set of commands.

    • Re:Oh No (Score:5, Funny)

      by Lambeco (1705140) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:50PM (#39179761)

      Help I'm a rock.

      I have discovered the root of your issue. Have you tried not being a rock?

    • Re:Oh No (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deorus (811828) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:50PM (#39179767)

      Your experience is completely opposite to mine. I'm Portuguese, meaning not even a native English speaker, and Siri understands me perfectly. Furthermore, I seldom experience service downtime, so I would attribute that to your carrier.

      Also, how the hell is this insightful?

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        Also, how the hell is this insightful?

        It means we should all move to Portugal (or at least get rid of AT&T).

    • Re:Oh No (Score:4, Funny)

      by an unsound mind (1419599) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:59PM (#39179889)

      "Set me a wake-up alarm at 9am". And Siri dutifully sets "me a wake up" alarm at 9am.

      Siri could be smarter. Siri could also understand me with accuracy that doesn't force me to hover my finger over the edit query button.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Huge_UID (1089143)
        My college sophomore son grabbed his apartment mate's 4s and said "Wake me up at 3am and remind me to masturbate". He was awoken at 3am by his roommate yelling at him.
      • When I ask Siri to wake me up tomorrow at 8am....and it's 12:10am or something like that...I don't get an 8am alarm for the morning...but for two days out! It takes tomorrow very literally.

    • I don't know if it's my voice or accent, but it rarely understands me

      Sounds like you and Barry have the same problem.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3bdXctq7DM [youtube.com]

    • For me Siri is unusable because I listen to music and podcasts (at a fairly low volume at that), and Siri can't differentiate background noise, music, talk radio, and me giving commands. I don't get how voice control could be useful in a car unless you keep it silent.
      • by macslut (724441)
        I have a convertible and Siri works great for me, even on the freeway with the top down. It works because my iPhone is integrated into the system. No cables, just Bluetooth. When I give it a command, it mutes whatever else I happen to be listening to (whether it's music from the iPhone itself, the radio, SD card, or thumb drive). If you're using your iPhone independent of your car system, 1) you're doing it wrong, and 2) Siri won't work with the music cranked up.
      • by Deorus (811828)

        As far as the Siri's implementation is concerned, everything else stops when Siri is expecting input. If they are integrating / implementing it in a car, I would expect the rest of the car's equipment to follow the same rule.

  • by epp_b (944299) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:21PM (#39179367)
    So, now, it won't work *and* it'll sound like a female's prison warden.
  • Experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omganton (2554342) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:30PM (#39179493)
    As someone who's been in a traumatic car wreck due to another driver being distracted, I have absolutely no desire to talk on the phone, send texts or update my social networking while I'm driving. There is nothing happening on my phone that's more important than my life, and I'd rather ignore a phone call or postpone my next twitter update rather than see my femur sticking through my lower intestine. You can call me whatever you want, but car accidents are caused by distractions, and people die. These are massive, powerful, destructive machines, and I'm sick and tired of seeing self-righteous, inconsiderate pricks with their head in their phone doing 75 down the highway.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mark-t (151149)
      Hands free phones are no more inherently distracting than a passenger in the car. Ever driven somebody who was blind someplace? The conversation flow identical to being on a cell phone.
      • by LordNimon (85072)

        Except that another passenger in the car can also look out for dangers on the road and warn you.

        • by mark-t (151149)
          Generally only if they are paying enough attention, or like to otherwise back-seat or passenger-seat drive.
      • Re:Experience (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pseudofrog (570061) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:42PM (#39180961)
        I can see why you would think that, but the science doesn't confirm what you're thinking. I know of at least three potential explanations:

        1) You don't feel the subconcious pressure to keep talking when someone's in the car with you. It's not considered "awkward" to shut up for 3-10 seconds in the middle of a conversation when you're driving. It feels awkward to do this on the phone.
        2) It's far easier to understand someone in the car than someone over a cell network. Phones demand more brainpower.
        3) You have a second set of eyes in the vehicle with you. Well, not so much in your example.

        My guess is the the first reason I outlined is the biggest issue. Often when I'm driving with passengers I'll pause mid-sentence for some time while doing something that requires my full attention and nobody says anything or thinks twice about it. When on the phone, pausing that long prompts "Hello? Are you there? Did I lose you?" from the person I'm talking to.

        I think if you did a test comparing people holding a cell-phone shaped device up to their ear while talking to a passenger to people actually talking on a cell phone, the former group would score higher. But the performance degradation of talking on a phone, in my opinion, is too great to be explained by having one hand occupied.
        • by mark-t (151149)
          I don't feel subconscious pressure to keep talking when I'm on the phone while driving.... most people know that if they are talking to me while I'm driving, and if I don't respond right away, then my concentration is sufficiently diverted that I can't respond (usually trying to negotiate with traffic). I'll often say something like "gimme a minute", and once I'm nicely in my target lane and everything's going smoothly again, it's easy enough to resume the conversation.
        • by jittles (1613415)

          My guess is the the first reason I outlined is the biggest issue. Often when I'm driving with passengers I'll pause mid-sentence for some time while doing something that requires my full attention and nobody says anything or thinks twice about it. When on the phone, pausing that long prompts "Hello? Are you there? Did I lose you?" from the person I'm talking to.

          This is when a person with common sense says "Hold on a second." I do it all the time when I'm on the phone in my car. I have integrated Bluetooth in my car, and I absolutely love it. I use it maybe once every month or two (I hate the phone), but its great. You can just as easily pause a phone conversation as you can an in-person conversation.

    • by giorgist (1208992)
      Chill ... Going for a coffee that morning was not more important than your life either.
      That is not what people choose on the day of their accident.
      Its about convenience Vs risk otherwise ... well there is no alternative.
      • by omganton (2554342) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:23PM (#39180149)
        Although driving by it's self is inherently risky, it can be done safely with the proper precautions. Car accidents can be reduced to mechanical failure.malfunction and unforeseen medical emergency if everyone just paid attention and respected the drivers they share the road with. Driving while talking on your phone, updating your social networking, or sending/reading texts (hands-free or otherwise) is a distraction and by definition cannot be done safely.

        There is also a difference between hands-free and having a passenger in the car (even a blind passenger). At any point in a conversation with a passenger, you can tell them to shut the fuck up and let you drive, at which point the passenger can take care of themselves until further notice. They also have some form of sensory input that allows them to interpret the situation at hand and assist you in either shutting up or providing relevant information to the crisis at hand. A hand-free device, Siri powered or otherwise, cannot interpret your current situation. If your trying to navigate through congested traffic and need to concentrate, Siri might still be reading you the list of texts you asked for, not realizing it was 20 texts long. Siri might not understand you when you ask it to stop, and it has no sensory information that it can accurately and efficiently relay to you.
    • I'm sick and tired of seeing self-righteous, inconsiderate pricks with their head in their phone doing 75 down the highway.

      Try driving a Volvo. The steel panels are thicker, the body and passenger compartment are reinforced and the doors all seem to be about 7 inches thick. In a Volvo you outweigh all similar vehicles in your class by a hefty margin. The gas mileage is somewhat lessened as a result, but compared to those tin-can Toyotas I see crushed like accordions on the sides of the road that doesn't seem like such a bad tradeoff. The Volvo has a long running and well deserved reputation for being a "tank" when it comes to s

  • by markdavis (642305) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:32PM (#39179525)

    Great- just what I would want in my next car, a non-changeable link to a totally proprietary technology that also will not work unless in a cell/data carrier area.

    I was already pissed that my existing car had an ipod-only connection, and like most vehicles, the software is never updated. And of course, it only works with CERTAIN models of the iPod and nothing newer or older.

    I have enough lock-in in my life already!

    • by mark-t (151149)

      I was already pissed that my existing car had an ipod-only connection

      Apparently, however, it did not piss you off enough to not actually buy the car in the first place. This is like being pissed off that the Hummer you bought won't fit into the motorcycle parking spots that you used to use.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        While that is a good point, there were many factors to consider and it was not enough to prevent the sale. It was a serious negative, however.

        No car had everything I wanted, I had to settle for the best available choice. Thankfully, I could find a used ipod that worked, but years from now, if it fails, I might not be so lucky.

      • by mug funky (910186)

        if you're choosing your car on the basis of ipod connectivity alone, i shudder at the thought of sharing a road with you.

        i'd rather sing to myself for the lifetime of the car than plug an ipod into it.

    • Exactly - another product I can cross off the list of possible future purchases due to a decision to lock buyers in to an association with Apple in order to get full use out of the product.

      I'll put it on the list with every clock/radio alarm clock in existence and various other cars.

    • by markdavis (642305)

      I can see the Apple fans are already modding the post down.

      I propose this as a *far* more interesting possibility:

      http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/27/realvnc-teams-up-with-sony-to-bring-android-apps-to-the-dashboar/ [engadget.com]

      And one that could work with not only Android, but ANY phone. THAT is the power of non-proprietary. *THIS* should have been the interesting Slashdot story. :)

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:32PM (#39179533)

    "Sir, while you were using your 'solution to listen to music, change channels on the radio, send texts, or make calls,' you crashed your car, Sir. You have now transformed a 200,000€ automobile into scrap, Sir."

    "Shall I call an ambulance, Sir?"

  • Really /.? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:33PM (#39179547)

    Siri to power...

    Siri is an interface, she doesn't power jack shit. That's like saying the steering wheel and accelerator power the car, or KDE powers the computer.

  • by drolli (522659) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:39PM (#39179639) Journal

    A car has a lifetime of up to 20 years (mercedes are known to have a long life). A car has enough power to power on-board computer which can do voice recognition. A car often travels far, sometime trough mountains without reception, maybe to foreign countries with different data service provider, who may, or may not have the right roaming agreement.

    And still they are putting something in which is based on a could service , which may vanish at any time when it does not pay off any more?

    Well done.

    • by Deorus (811828)

      It's a usability aid. Doesn't hinder you in any way if it's not there, but can help you a lot when it is.

    • by forkfail (228161)

      On the other hand, the folks buying new Mercedes probably aren't looking at long term investment... we're talking 0.01% for the most part here.

    • by jittles (1613415)

      A car has a lifetime of up to 20 years (mercedes are known to have a long life).

      My first car was 30 years old when I started driving it. I had to work on it quite a bit, but it was still in pretty decent mechanical shape. Any worthwhile car should last a lot longer than 20 years, if properly maintained. This depends on how you use the car, and how many miles you put on it, of course.

  • # I'm driving ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:53PM (#39179807)

    ... so drivers will even be able to update their Twitter accounts and post messages to Facebook.

    No good can come of this.

  • Bandwidth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Calydor (739835) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:02PM (#39179935)

    What I want to know is who foots the bandwidth bill.

    Siri works by sending each and every command to the cloud and getting replies back, right?

    The cell companies keep yapping about how limited the mobile network's bandwidth is, which is why mobile data plans are so costly.

    So who will be paying for this, and what happens when Car-Siri (Carrie? Now THERE is a scary thought!) exceeds its monthly allowance and dips into costly overtime?

    • by Deorus (811828)

      Bandwidth usage is much lower than during a typical phone call, because a voice command only lasts a few seconds and Siri uses exactly the same audio compression algorithms. Once it's on the Internet it is no longer a cell network issue and there's plenty of bandwidth there.

  • by narcc (412956) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:12PM (#39180037) Journal

    Apples a bit late to the automobile integration game.

    It's no secret that RIMs QNX car application platform *actually* powers over 20 million vehicles on the road. They've already taken integration to a whole new level:

    QNX lets BlackBerry PlayBook become in-car controller [intomobile.com]

    The QNX car app platform can power your vehicle’s in-car monitors, including the speedometer and the entertainment unit. [...] you can easily bring things like Pandora or even YouTube to you in-car entertainment unit as well as have realistic maps or song album covers overlaid next to your speedometer.
    [...] The BlackBerry PlayBook can then be used to control the climate in the car and you can also get the media from the device over to your car’s entertainment unit with just a few clicks.
    QNX also showed off how BlackBerry Traffic can be integrated into the in-car unit via Bluetooth and this provides live, turn-by-turn navigation with an emphasis on how long it will actually take you to get there

    RIM's strong relationship with Porche is no secret either (see the Porche designed BlackBery 9981) Concept Porsche Shows Off RIM QNX [informationweek.com]

    QNX shows off its versatility, powers OnStar accessories [engadget.com]

    Police are also starting to use RIM's in-vehicle technologies: Cop Conference Features BlackBerry PlayBook As Law Enforcement Tool [technobuffalo.com] Some details: Serving and Protectingwith a BlackBerry PlayBook [blackberry.com]

    It keeps getting better New QNX Platform to Transform the Automotive Experience [marketwatch.com]

    You could say that less than impressed with Siri in the Mercedes after seeing what RIM is doing in the same arena with their technology.

  • ... of what Siri is. BBT, Season 5, episode 14 clips [macdailynews.com]
  • ... Siri with a female, German accent?

  • The first a very frustrated one between Siri and the driver. Or rather, between the driver and nothing.

    The second between the driver and ATT, wherein ATT informs the drive that his bandwidth has been throttled, and thus, Siri isn't going to be responding.

  • Excellent, this reinforces my decision to go with BMW.

  • i can only say this is a bad idea.

    it might be an exclusively Melbourne thing, but if there's a mercedes on the road, they're pretty much guaranteed to be doing something wrong.

    one woman i saw in one of those sporty SLK things - cuts in front in the fast lane, sits at 20k/h, wobbles around and i nearly hit her. after honking quite spiritedly, she gestures to a sheaf of paper, as if the fact she was reading her printed-out email while driving was an excuse to be driving 20k in the fast lane.

    i suppose it's th

  • Siri is nowhere near the level of usability required for the safe operation of vehicles. Even if Siri doesn't control car functions, the frustration involved operating Siri would be too distracting for drivers.

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.

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