Monthly Archives: June 2013

My Smartphone Goes Hands-Free

I’ve become so used to my new device that I’m making and receiving calls on the road. Oops..that’s a no no! Don’t worry, at least I don’t text and drive; I couldn’t if I so desired as I’m still mastering the thumb movement. Perhaps it is taking a while to become a fast texter since I don’t play video games? Never mind, I’m digressing.

Anyway since I’ve started talking and driving, I decided that it is time to enter the brave new world of hands free devices, and I’m now the proud owner of a fine new Plantronics Voyager Legend. It boasts of features such as smart call routing, precision audio, voice commands and caller announce, but for me, the most important feature is that it’s hands free! But what does “hands free” actually mean? It means that I can talk and drive with both hands on the wheel, of course. Yippee!

The first time I try it out is in the house and of course everything works perfectly. Doesn’t everything always work perfectly in test? Now it’s time to try it in the car. Much to my surprise, the hands free turns out not to be completely hands free. Since I have carefully set up all my contacts with their home and mobile phone numbers, the hands free offers me a choice of numbers for each contact. Much to my chagrin, I have to manually, using my finger, tap the number I wish to call. Now I’m not blaming the hands free device, it’s a user error or more accurately, a user design error.

Not to be deterred from becoming complete hands free, I create separate contacts for all of the numbers that I will call from the car. So now that I’m completely hands free, I find that not only can I talk with both hands on the wheel, but also, I now have the opportunity to experience the joy and frustration of speech recognition technology. I confidently make my initial call, responding to the device’s “What would you like to do?” with “Call Peter”. And instead of seamlessly being connected to Peter, I am offered the entire listing of pizza restaurants in my contacts, and yes there are many. It was still morning, but what the heck, I ordered a pizza.

So as much as there is a learning curve to swiping and tapping and texting, apparently there is also an art to hands free speaking. I’ll let you know when I master it. For now, I’ve implemented a workaround. Since Peter sounds so much like pizza, I changed Peter’s name to Andy. And if Andy answers, I’ll be very surprised since Andy is Peter’s cat. I wonder how the hands free would interpret a “meow”.