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Automakers Eyeing Apple’s ‘Eyes Free’ Technology

June 14, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

Nine motor companies will install Apple’s new “Eyes Free” technology into future vehicles. The announcement was made at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, and a day after Apple announced that Siri will serve as the platform its new “Eyes Free” in-car technology.

GM, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Land Rover have each committed to install the voice-activated system in their vehicle, with models and dates to be determined.

Toyota officials said the company is exploring the possibility of introducing the Siri Eyes Free Mode (SEFM) interface into Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles. The following is a statement the company released about its collaboration with Apple: “Ultimately, we believe alliances allow us to build better cars for our customers. It’s also good for us as a company to work with partners outside our industry. We’re exposed to new ideas and new ways of doing business that make us better. That said, this development with Apple is one of those cases.”

Honda’s Alicia Jones said Apple’s new Siri Eyes Free iPhone feature will extensively be applied to the Honda and Acura vehicle lineup. “Information about specific vehicle applications will be announced later this year,” she said. “Smart phones have become so integral to people’s lives that they are using them in vehicles, and the challenge is to enable the benefits of these devices without contributing to visual-manual driver distraction. This is important to Honda and we believe this new Siri-based functionality will be a positive step in reducing the risk of driver distraction.”

The announcements come just days after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood issued a new guide titled, “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving.” LaHood has been after automakers to limit technologies that distract drivers. Earlier this year, he suggested that prohibitions be put in place to limit in-car technologies, but has since backed off of those statements but is urging automakers to voluntarily limit distractions inside their vehicles.

“Distracted driving is an epidemic,” LaHood said in a statement. “While we’ve made progress in the past three years by raising awareness about this risky behavior, the simple fact is people are continuing to be killed and injured — and we can put an end to it.”

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