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New service turns your car into a talking personal assistant

May 22, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • A still from a video by Nuance Communications shows how Dragon Drive lets drivers send texts without needing to take their eyes off the road.
A still from a video by Nuance Communications shows how Dragon Drive lets… (Nuance Communications )

Some people talk to their cars. In the near future, their cars will talk right back to them.

On Tuesday, Nuance Communications Inc., a company that specializes in voice and language solutions, announced a new product called Dragon Drive that will turn your car into a Siri-like computer personal assistant.

"Millions of cars around the world already use Nuance voice recognition for voice dialing and controlling the climate system, but all those activities are relegated to controlling technology in the car," Mike Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of Nuanceā€™s Mobile division, said in an interview with The Times. "What's new here is we've extended that control to the cloud. Now you can interact with the Internet as you are driving along."

A car loaded with Dragon Drive can send a text message for you while you keep your hands on the steering wheel, it can read your emails aloud to you on your way to the grocery store, and you can even ask it to read to you from your favorite online news source.

All you have to say is "next" if you think the article is boring.

In not too long, we will all have a KITT (the talking car from "Knight Rider") of our own. Will we argue with it? Will we love it? Will we befriend it?

The only bummer is that you can't load Dragon Drive in your car. Nuance sells directly to car manufacturers and suppliers, so the only way to get Dragon Drive is to get a new car that comes with the service.

Thompson said cars loaded with Dragon Drive's messaging service -- which allows you to send and hear texts and emails hands-free and eyes-free -- will be rolling out this summer. The service will be available in medium and higher-end priced cars to start, but he said that it won't be long before it is available in vehicles in every price range.

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