Voice assistants, like Siri and Google Assistant, offer drivers a hands-free, eyes-free way to complete secondary tasks such as replying to a text message. Are these voice assistants designed for safe driving or are they too good to be true?
How might we minimize distraction when using in-vehicle voice assisants while driving?
- Identify and counter causes for visual distraction.
- Identify and counter causes for cognitive distraction.
- Leverage existing conversation design guidelines to emphasize safe use while driving.
Quantitative data to support qualitative insights
Our methodology combined observations, surveys, and eye tracking data. From our on road tests, we found that drivers would be distracted by unresolved errors and robotic prompts from the voice assistant.
Helping drivers find the words
We created two prototypes to validate hypotheses for safer use while driving. The first aimed to reduce visual distraction by prioritizing shorter responses, presenting the most frequently used option to drivers. The second was designed to reduce the cognitive distraction of phrasing commands through longer contextual prompts from the assistant.
New guidelines for safer use while driving
Combining insights from both our on road and driving simulator tests, we developed design guidelines for voice assistants. These guidelines were created to supplement existing guidelines and emphasize practices for safer interaction while driving.
Safety through partnerships
Volvo Cars is a brand dedicated to safety and innovation. At the end of our thesis project, we presented our findings and guidlines to the voice team within Volvo, who works with partners like Apple and Google to make integrated voice assistants safer to use for Volvo drivers.