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Auto manufacturers slow to adopt Siri Eyes Free

Remember the hoopla at last year's WWDC when Apple announced Siri Eyes Free? The feature was designed to use a car's onboard voice-recognition hardware to process voice input and pass it along to Apple's Siri. At this point in time, according to an article on Wired, only GM has actually implemented the feature and two others have disclosed plans to offer Siri Eyes Free.

GM made Siri Eyes Free available on the entry-level Sonic and Spark vehicles through the MyLink infotainment system, which uses the iPhone to supply just about all the content available -- music, navigation and communications. But two low-end vehicles from one manufacturer don't spell success for Siri Eyes Free.

Fortunately, Honda is planning on adding the feature to new vehicles by this summer, and Mercedes-Benz will add Siri Eyes Free integration with an add-on accessory called the Drive Kit Plus for iPhone within a week.

Wired's Doug Newcomb notes that the issue isn't with the technology, but rather with the long product lead times with auto manufacturers and difficulties in making changes to production vehicles. That's not to say that it's easy to integrate Siri with a car; Steve Witt of Dice is quoted as saying "When you have two competing [voice recognition] systems, I don't believe it's going to be seamless." Dice was testing Siri Eyes Free with an onboard voice recognition system and said, "The car's radio gets confused."

Still, with the long lead times to get integration into a car infotainment system -- often four to five years -- it may be a while before Siri Eyes Free is commonplace in new vehicles.

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