Team develops hands-free texting app

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Clemson University researchers have developed a hands-free way of texting while driving.

"If you can’t keep people from doing it, make it safer," said Juan Gilbert, professor and chairman of the human-centered computing division of Clemson’s School of Computing.

Taking a rather defeatist attitude, perhaps, he said the problem with banning texting while driving was that people were likely to continue doing it. We feel much the same about mass murder.

Gilbert said it was difficult for police to enforce a ban unless they actually saw someone in the act, and that evidence of texting while driving often surfaced only after an accident.

But the team's developed an application, called VoiceText, that allows drivers to speak text messages while keeping their eyes on the road. Drivers using VoiceText put their cell phones in Bluetooth mode and connect it to their car.

"Through the car’s speaker system or through the driver’s own Bluetooth headset, drivers can give a voice command that delivers a text message," Gilbert said.

"So you can speak to your phone and tell it to send a message to an individual. The recipient’s phone recognizes the voice as a text message and the other person is able to respond appropriately."

Gilbert and his researchers sussing out public opinion on VoiceText here. There's a video demo, followed by three multiple-choice questions and space for comments. 

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reckons that 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve driver distraction, with cellphone use a major culprit.