Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Automakers increase text options

Published:Sunday | October 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
New technology will expand the range of text options while driving, without users having to actually hold up the instrument.
The IS 350 Lexus, from the line in which the luxury car maker has introduced advanced text technology.-Contributed photos
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Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer

Talking on the cell phones while driving is illegal in many countries. However, automakers are now keen on integrating text messaging services into their products, increasing the level of technology available to the driver and passengers.

The 2013 Honda Civic and the 2014 Lexus ES 350 are among the many vehicles equipped with text messaging capabilities.

TYPES OF TEXT SERVICE

Basic text services are available on a number of vehicles. For example, the Dodge Dart comes equipped with technology which can turn text to voice or allow drivers to read messages on the dashboard screen. They can then respond from a preset menu.

In other vehicles, drivers can listen and respond to incoming text messages through the car's multimedia and Bluetooth systems, utilising voice commands or preprogrammed reply messages. Therefore, somewhat terse 'Yes', 'No' and 'I'm driving' responses are not unfamiliar.

However, it is the 2014 Lexus ES 350 SMS text-to-speech with reply feature that takes preprogrammed responses to another level with 15 available responses. Lexus also allows users to get creative and edit the 15 messages, which include 'I'm running late', 'Can't talk right now, I'm driving' and 'Where are you?', among others.

Although the text technology is catching on quickly, whether it is distracting for the driver is still being hotly debated.

In the meantime, automakers like Chrysler, BMW and General Motors are pressing ahead with developing features to make driving less distracting for those who feel the need to text, email or even check social media while at the steering wheel.