Connectivity and communication in the car becomes more and more important. In order to minimize distraction, car manufacturers are introducing speech-enabled interfaces to messaging (email, SMS) and Internet services. Apple’s Siri is one of the most popular systems also for cars, utilizing screen mirroring functions or other direct ways to integrate the mobile phone application. We claim, however, that this is not enough to be safe. The main objective of the research project GetHomeSafe (2012-2014) under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission (grant agreement no: 288667) was to investigate ways for a deeper integration of interactive, speech-based systems. Therefore, Daimler (Germany), KTH (Sweden), IBM (Czech Republic), Nuance (Belgium), and DFKI (Germany) partnered up to let people “get home safe”.
The results were the following: we developed a speech-enabled system for hotel booking, facebook, and Wolfram Alpha in three languages: English, German, and Czech. The system is fully integrated in a Mercedes car and provides the following features: dialog with interrupt/resume based on the current driving situation, natural language support plus slot-by-slot filling depending on the user’s choice, barge-in, and pro-active behavior. The final evaluation of the GetHomeSafe prototype was done in a real car on a training center. We were able to show the improvement in terms of driving safety as well as user satisfaction.
Additionally, the project delivered insights that are beneficial for future projects: we performed systematic user studies regarding the design of the graphical user interface, compiled a list of recommendations for pro-active system behavior in the car, and contributed to the technological improvement of statistical dialog systems.
In addition to that, the project GetHomeSafe delivered the open-source driving simulator OpenDS together with ready-made metrics for studying the distraction of interactive systems in the car. Already during the lifetime of the project, OpenDS (www.opends.eu) has become an acknowledged international brand in driving simulation, used and cited by many researchers world-wide.