Measuring the safety of voice-activated technology | The Martin Law Firm
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Measuring the safety of voice-activated technology

During a cognitive distraction study published by AAA, researchers discovered that drivers who used a hands-free cellphone while behind the wheel experienced a significant amount of cognitive distraction. The study had drivers engage in several tasks while operating a vehicle in order to test the amount of distraction that was produced. The results of the study also showed that when participants were asked to use a voice-activated device, they had the greatest amount of cognitive distraction. This information prompted researchers to set up a follow-up study to look at exactly how distracting this technology can be.

Participants were asked to perform certain tasks using voice-activated technology that had a human voice, as well as a device that had a computerized voice. In addition to issuing basic commands, drivers were asked to listen to email and text messages and compose a response to those messages. They were also asked to use the technology to schedule events on a calendar and update their social media status. Participants performed these tasks on technology that had perfect reliability, moderate reliability and low reliability.

The study found that when voice-activated devices were not accurate or reliable, drivers had a more difficult time paying attention to the road. For instance, if the technology was not able to tell what the driver was saying or responded in a wrong manner, drivers were more likely to become distracted and frustrated. Researchers suggest that if improvements were made to the software, it would limit the amount of cognitive distraction drivers’ experienced. 

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