Smart Cars Get Real Smart with Apple’s Siri

May 23rd, 2013 by

If you’ve ever watched the 1980s TV series Knight Rider and dreamed of some far off day in the future when your car could talk to you – you might want to pinch yourself, because the future is now.

While it may not be in the voice of KITT future drivers can now look forward to hearing Apple’s Siri when they start their engines. An American car company, Chevrolet, now leads the industry in integrating this new feature into the next generation of smart cars. The 2013 Chevrolet Spark and Sonic are the first cars on the market to fully integrate Siri in a system called Siri Eyes Free.

Distracted driving accidents, especially those involving cell phones and texting, are becoming a major epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “nearly one in five crashes (18%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.” Not only that, but 9 people a day are killed in accidents involving a distracted driver and thousands are injured daily. Strict laws are being enacted all over the United States to curb this epidemic, but according to the CDC the amount of accidents involving a distracted driver are still on the rise.

Siri Eyes Free hopes to fight this frightening trend by allowing the user to access their I-phone’s contacts, text messages, and calendar through voice commands – and without the driver taking their eyes off the road. Drivers of the Chevrolet Spark (1LT or 2LT), or the Chevrolet Sonic (LTZ or RS) will be able to link to any I-phone running iOS6.


The goal of Siri Eyes Free is to keep drivers safe on the road by minimizing the amount of time the driver takes their eyes off the road. With Siri Eyes Free, by using a their voice alone, a user will be able to:

  • Compose text messages and send them to people in their contacts.
  • Have Siri read text messages to the driver.
  • Allow the user to make hands-free calls to anyone in their contacts list.
  • Set appointments, check dates, or organize their calendar.
  • Play songs from I-Tunes or saved playlists.
  • Answer simple questions such as the date of a holiday, or the score of a game.

While Siri will not be able to answer complex questions that would require the user to view a web page the service will greatly help reduce the amount of eyes taken off the road to answer a text message.

How it Works

Drivers of newer model Sonics and Sparks are already familiar with the Chevrolet MyLink radio and infotainment center, however, the concept is easy to grasp. The MyLink radio is a small touch screen computer that replaces the traditional radio/CD player in the front center console of most vehicles. This infotainment center is able to connect to local and international radio stations including Pandora, store playlists and even connect you to your calls.

Using the MyLink radio, users can connect Via a Bluetooth connection to their I-phone. Drivers will be able to control when they use Siri by a small button located on the steering wheel that will be able to connect and disconnect Siri. The process is simple and can be done without the driver taking their eyes off the road. The system goes so far as to keep the driver’s phone dimmed, even when it is looking up information, so that the driver will not be tempted to look at the I-phone screen while driving.

Leading the Pack

During Apple’s 2013 World Wide Developer Conference, the software manufacturer announced it was working with a long list of car companies to put Siri Eyes Free into more vehicles. The list included luxury car manufacturers such as Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes, and Land Rover. However, according to technology blogger, and blogger for iMore, Derek Kessler, “To date, only one manufacturer has delivered: GM.” Leading the pack is Chevrolet, releasing two Siri Eyes Free equipped vehicles this year.

Cristi Landy, Marketing Director for Small cars explained to GM news, “It says a lot about our commitment to small-car customers that Chevrolet has announced that Siri Eyes Free capability will be available in the Spark and Sonic well before the luxury brands.”

While Honda is planning to release a Honda Accord equipped with Siri Eyes Free some time in the recent future they have yet to release much information on the feature. According to Derek Kessler a new Chevrolet Sonic will likely be significantly less than a Siri equipped Honda Accord. “That Chevy Sonic with Siri Eyes Free will costs a minimum of $17,050,” wrote Kessler, “Honda’s 2013 Accord starts at $21,680.” Considering the average price of the newest I-phone these days this cost difference is likely greatly appreciated.

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