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New apps use voice technology to help you get more done on the road. However, any action you take while driving even if it’s just talking on the phone with a hands-free kit, will distract you. Are these apps safe?

Technology continues to bring out the best in modern inventors today. Mobile devices are updated every few years, and many apps are developed and added to these gadgets, mostly with the purpose of making life easier and perhaps more fun for the users. These days, in addition to desktop computers and laptops, you can get work done with the use of your iPhones, Android, Blackberry, and many other smartphones and mobile devices.

However, the increase in the capabilities of mobile devices to include texting and other conveniences has also increased the number of vehicular accidents. As a result, many states have passed laws demanding that drivers only use cellphones that have “hands-free” devices like the Bluetooth and ear buds.

The latest trend in mobile working is gadgets or services that use text-to-speech technology to read your text-based correspondence in a human-like voice, and in some cases, even allows you to reply verbally, attaching the reply as an audio clip or transcribed back into text before sending. Examples of these apps are the DriveSafe.ly by iSpeech.Org and the Text’nDrive app for Blackberry or iPhone.

These tools can be very handy while on the road, and may seem to be good solutions to making workers more effective but there are still safety concerns. According to Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst from London, Ontario, “While these new apps hold the promise of maintaining productivity while on the go, they ignore the basic fact that even hands-free communication at the wheel can be a dangerous proposition.”

Scott Steinberg, CEO and lead technology analyst for TechSavvy Global in Seattle, Washington agrees with Levy on safety concerns, but says, “. . . this is better than holding the phone up to your ear, which also may be illegal in your state, and certainly safer than texting or emailing while driving.” Steinberg adds that these apps do a “pretty good job … That said, hearing your emails is fine, but those who send out replies will still need to double-check messages if they’ve been transcribed into text to ensure it’s accurate.”

While these apps can certainly help you and your employees be more productive, we should always remember that any action taken while driving, even if it’s just talking on the phone with a hands-free kit, is distracting. Perhaps the best policy is to wait until you get to your destination. It’s safer, and you can focus solely on your work.

Published on 6th January 2011 by Jeanne DeWitt.

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