waderoush writes "A rash of media reports last week, reporting on a study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, implied that using voice-to-text apps like Siri or Vlingo while driving is no safer than manual texting. But Adam Cheyer, the co-inventor of Siri, says journalists took the wrong message from the study, which didn't test Siri or Vlingo in the recommended hands-free, eyes-free mode. In the study, researchers asked subjects to drive a closed course while they held an iPhone or Android phone in one hand, spoke messages into Siri or Vlingo, proofread the messages visually, and pressed buttons to send the messages. Under these conditions, driver response times were delayed by nearly a factor of two, the researchers found. 'Of course your driving performance is going to be degraded if you're reading screens and pushing buttons,' says Cheyer, who joined Apple in 2010 as part of the Siri acquisition and left the company two years later. To study whether voice-to-text apps are really safer than manual texting, he says, the Texas researchers should have tested Siri and Vlingo in car mode, where a Bluetooth headset or speakers are used to minimize visual and manual interaction. 'The study seems to have misunderstood how Siri was designed to be used,' Cheyer says. 'I don't think that there is any evidence that shows that if Siri and other systems are used properly in eyes-free mode, they are 'just as risky as texting.''"
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