Connected Car Technology Could Allow Drivers To Command with Voice, Hand Gestures

Jan 17, 2014 01:08 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Picture yourself getting into your car and telling it you want pizza, then being directed to the nearest pizzeria.

That future may not be far away if carmakers keep making advances in technology on the road to connected cars. Bringing in Internet connectivity, auto manufacturers hope to make a car as much of a device as the smartphone, Quartz reported.

Vehicles may soon be able to download apps, stream music, give directions and keep motorists connected to the Internet. The connected car market will be valued at $54 billion by 2018, according to Quartz.

How will car manufacturers make connected driving a safe experience? Connected driving will likely become hands-free through a mix of such new technologies as screens that follow eye movement; systems that respond to the driver's voice; and cameras that obey hand gestures.

"The experience you're going to get is safer than using a smartphone," Joe Mosele of AT&T's "emerging devices" division told Quartz.

Swedish company Tobii makes eye-tracking software that uses sensors to follow eye movement and respond. Users can look up and down to scroll and stare at something directly to select.

Quartz said the technology gave "an immensely empowering feeling to be able to control something by doing nothing more than looking at it."

Drivers may soon be telling their cars what they need just as they would converse with another passenger, according to Shai Leib, creator of Siri-like app Ask Ziggy. Go back to picturing yourself asking your car for pizza.

"Once we understand what you said, we semantically understand what you need, so we would tell the user we found several restaurants," Leib described as quoted by Quartz. "The first one is 0.7 miles away. Would you like me to navigate to it? And the person would say yes go ahead. And then the system would start the map."

Connected cars could also be directed with the wave of a hand. Michel Tombroff of the Belgium-based company SoftKinetic believes that 3-D cameras will follow a driver's movements for commands. 

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