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Voice-activated Devices: What You Should Know

  • On Behalf Of Colton Holm
  • Published: August 14, 2019

In this day and age of advanced technology, drivers are able to speak to their vehicles. You are no longer required to manually switch the radio station, make a phone call or compose a text. Instead, in-vehicle technologies work by understanding verbal commands and can carry out a myriad of tasks with just the sound of your voice. This technology, however, is not foolproof, and defects in voice-activated technology features may cause a significant amount of cognitive distraction.

In one study, a team of researchers set out to measure the mental workload created by using voice-activated devices and how they can interfere with the task of driving itself. The study looked at six different technologies and how they affected a person’s ability to drive. Participants were asked to complete a driving course while engaging in several voice-activated tasks, including changing the music and dialing phone numbers. Researchers then look at participants’ reaction time, heart rate and brain activity, as well as the drivers’ subjective responses regarding how they felt during the activity.

The results showed that while all of the voice-activated technologies increased driver’s cognitive distraction to some extent, some were more distracting. When the focus is taken off of driving and placed on something else, it affects driver’s response time and ability to adhere to critical hazards, such as bad weather conditions, pedestrian crosswalks, traffic signals, other drivers and objects in the road. It is difficult for the brain to fully concentrate on two complex tasks simultaneously.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

Colton Holm

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