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Google Wants Your Driving to Be More Like 'Knight Rider'


Using hands-free technology known as "KITT," Google is developing always-on, voice-powered functionality to be used while driving.

With all the hubbub surrounding Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Worldwide Developers Conference this week, it's only natural that other tech news gets overshadowed. But amidst the iOS and Mac OS X updates, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has a few tricks in store for Android that are also notable. And as Apple takes a cue from Android for its "Hey Siri" voice command -- among other things -- Google proves it's the leader in voice command functionality with this latest rumor.
According to Android Police's Liam Spradlin, Google is developing a hands-free, voice recognition feature known as KITT, named after the chatty vehicle from the iconic David Hasselhoff series Knight Rider, to be used when on the road. Similar to the touchless controls built into Moto X -- which can be remotely triggered with a simple "OK Google Now" voice command, even when the screen is turned off -- KITT aims to allow drivers to interact with Google Search without moving a finger or taking their eyes off the road. Spradlin adds that, in-house, KITT also goes by the name "Android Eyes Free."
The main goal is to make the touchless controls from Moto X universal throughout the Android platform, meaning a simple "OK Google" from any screen will invoke Google Search. There are some concerns that the "always on, always listening" component could wreak havoc on many device's battery life, particularly older models, but that might be fixed as the service's power requirements are optimized.
For simple queries such as the weather, flight times, or sports scores, the results will be read aloud. KITT will supposedly recognize when the device is in a moving vehicle and provide a more detailed vocal description from the information beyond, say, "Here's the weather in New York City." That way your eyes won't leave the road.
As for lengthier results like a series of links, Google is still working the kinks out. Spradlin reports that the company is considering saving the search results and holding them until the user can safely exit out of the eyes-free mode.
And using recent Siri-like conversational interactivity that doesn't require the user to give all the information in one command (See: Google Search Adopts iPhone's Most 'User Friendly' Feature), KITT will be able to send a dictated email or text and verbally confirm each variable like recipient, subject, and body so any visual distraction is kept to a minimum. And adding to the "distraction-free" aspect to KITT's driving mode, the screen will supposedly sport an extremely pared-down interface that will supply at-a-glance information via a single icon and limited description.
Moto X's feature allowing touchless control has become one of the device's most coveted functions, so it's expected that Google would love to implement it into the Android platform by default. And given how many of us use our smartphones for navigation and media while driving, anything that improves voice functionality will be most welcome by motorists.

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