What is Voice Recognition GPS?

Patrick Roland

A global positioning system, also known as a GPS, uses satellite technology to determine a person or vehicle's precise location. It often is used to provide directions to drivers. Some versions of this technology offer a hands-free experience by offering a voice recognition GPS. Drivers can find their way and get directions simply by talking to the navigation system in their vehicle. This can be useful in many situations, but it also has some drawbacks that can make it frustrating.

GPS receivers utilizing voice recognition software allowing motorists a hands-free experience.
GPS receivers utilizing voice recognition software allowing motorists a hands-free experience.

Global positioning systems work by combining satellite technology with mapping software to track not only where a car currently is but also to give directions where the car needs to go. A traditional GPS requires the user to type in addresses or names of destinations. These directions are transmitted to a satellite, and the route is planned in real time, usually giving construction and traffic warnings. This can get complicated during a drive, because a driver rarely has time to type words into the system and make changes in the itinerary when driving. Voice recognition GPS systems aim to eliminate the distractions and accidents that can be caused when the navigation control system is handled manually.

A voice recognition GPS operates by utilizing speech commands instead of typed commands. The driver speaks an address out loud, and the GPS recognizes it the same way traditional systems do for manually typed directions. Most GPS systems also have a computerized voice to ask for clarifications and advise the driver of upcoming turns. This technology allows the driver to never have to touch the monitor and to focus on the road when trying to reach the intended destination.

Most voice recognition GPS models perform a variety of tasks. The primary job is guiding the driver from Point A to Point B. The speaker can choose whether the route taken is the quickest way possible, the fewest miles or even the most scenic route, all by using simple vocal commands. Voice commands also can ask the computer to find points of interest in the area, such as parks or restaurants. Another helpful function is the global positioning system's ability to guide a driver home with a simple vocal request.

The benefits of a voice recognition GPS — flexibility, accuracy and time to focus on driving — are fairly obvious, but the technology is not without its drawbacks. Many times, the directions are not always the fastest or easiest route when those specifications are not requested. The most difficult part of working with speech recognition is learning to communicate slowly enough and with enough enunciation that the GPS accurately understands what is being said.

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