A Modest (Software) Proposal.

I text. A lot. There. I’ve admitted it. Text messages are actually pretty useful – especially if used appropriately. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, and everything, a lot of people check their brains at the car door, and insist on texting whilst driving. Pandemonium ensues. And that’s a bad thing.

Governments, insisting that Something Must Be Done, do their typically heavy-handed thang – they ban texting while driving. But technology could offer a better way to deal with texting on the road, and I’m curious as to why nobody’s figured this out.

I have an iPhone (a phone that elicits much the same passion in me that guns did from Charlton Heston…”from my, cold, dead fingers!”). I have a free program installed on it called “Dragon Dictation.” Pretty cool app. It allows you to dictate anything, then converts the audio automagically to text. Does a pretty good job, too. They’ll even let you paste it into a text message. Cool – as far as it goes. But what’s needed – by Nuance (makers of the Dragon app), Apple, or for pity’s sake SOMEBODY – is a full-blown SMS application that will allow you to speak and send – as well as convert the incoming texts to audio, so you can, well…text without um…texting.

This could be a killer app. Or given the number of accidents caused by texting, maybe the ultimate NON-killing app. And it ought to come with every smartphone. But if it can’t be free, at least it could be advertiser-supported – either with visual ads, or with audio ads (like radio, duh!) that would be limited to, say once every 60 seconds or so (and no longer than 5 seconds, please!).

I my experience, there’s no way to legislate common sense. And if you can find a way to enable people to do what they want, and do it safely without venturing too far out of their comfort zones – it’s bound to work. Wouldn’t it be better to have “voice texting” (vText? vSMS?) than just ban it completely? And besides – most people can’t type worth a warm bucket of spit. I can’t believe speech recognition would make messaging a bigger mess than it is now.

5 thoughts on “A Modest (Software) Proposal.”

  1. I agree in principle, because no matter what, people will always do things they shouldn’t while driving. But I believe the problem of distracted driving extends beyond tasks that take one’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel, so voice-to-text — which does already exist for certain phones… don’t ask me which ones, as I’m an iPhoner as well — does not quite solve the problem. It’s preferable to traditional texting, of course, but it would still create a mental distraction. Just my POV.

    I just noticed the date of this blog post. If I’m right, voice-to-text tech was made available after you wrote this. You may be psychic! ;^)

    1. Yep. Psychic…or psychotic. I’ve found Siri on my iPhone 4S to be surprisingly useable in the car for texts. That and an earbud and I’m ready to deal with just about anything. Of course, what I’d like to see next is a heads-up display, so I could see everything without my eyes leaving the road.

      1. Oh, Siri! I’m still Siri-less with a 3GS, but yes, perfect example of what I meant. I think the government will even outlaw V2T while driving someday. They don’t feel they’re being effective unless they’re taking away something useful or fun because we the people have proven time and again our inability to self-control (and apparently self-edit, based on this sentence). So my advice is, don’t be acquiring any new, enjoyable habits unless you’re prepared to have it taxed into unattainability. Ha! Goodness, I’m so cynical!

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