Hot on the heels of the iPhone 4S and a rumored TV, Apple is apparently building a car powered by its revolutionary Siri technology. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Apple insider close to the project explains:

If you think about using TVs, you quickly realize that a remote control is an outdated interface, too cumbersome for most. I mean, just look at all these volume and channel buttons. Who can make sense of it all? Anyway, we believe that the dominant interface found in most cars today (steering wheel, pedals, and so on) is also quite outdated and cumbersome. We know we can do better and, with Siri, we finally have.

Minimalistic Interface

By applying its trademark minimalism, Apple was able to drastically simplify the user interface for the iCar. Gone are the steering wheel, gas and break pedals, windshield wiper and headlight controls. Also absent are buttons to control air conditioning, radio, navigation, and even interior lights. Instead, everything is powered by a Siri-based voice interface.

With Siri, drivers no longer have to remember complex actions for things like steering and accelerating. Instead, simple commands issued in a conversational language control the vehicle.

This is possible because Siri can understand different ways of requesting the same action. For example, to start the car, a user can say any number of things such as “Start the car“, “Let’s go“, or “Where the hell is the gas pedal in this thing?“. Similarly, stopping can be accomplished by asking “Please stop“, “Halt“, and even “Oh my God, if this coffin on wheels doesn’t stop right now, we’re all going to die!“.

Context Awareness

Another great thing about Siri is the fact that it’s context aware. This means that the same command may result in different actions depending on what else is going on.

For example, if you say “It’s getting hot in here” and Siri detects that the temperature in the car exceeds 73 degrees, it will automatically turn on the AC. On the other hand, if the temperature is already cool, Siri will start playing Nelly’s 2002 hit song by the same name.

Similarly, if you say “Get this crap off!” and Siri detects something on the windshield, it will activate the windshield wipers. On the other hand, if the windshield is clean, it will turn Nelly off and apologize in a soothing voice.

Final Thought

With the iCar, Apple is once again reinventing the way humans interact with machines. Just think of what it will be like to finally experience driving as it’s meant to be, simple and elegant. All I can say is: “Where the hell is the gas pedal in this thing?“… I mean “Let’s go!“.

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This post got 2 comments so far. Care to add yours?

  1. PJ says:

    Apple has really missed the mark on this one. Siri is already too late since Google has autonomous cars that don’t even need a driver. Why are they trying to drag us backwards given the current available technology? They should join forces with Google to continue to legislate away the need to have a driver.

    However, this explains my recent experience in a taxi leaving LAX. I repeated to the driver multiple times where i wanted to go and each time it came back wrong when repeated. We ended up at the wrong address and then the credit card interface failed to connect when paying. Had to be a SIRI prototype with a mannequin in front using AT&T service.

    • Alex Tatiyants says:

      Thanks Patrick. Yes, Apple has apparently been field testing Siri in taxi cabs and town cars for quite some time.