Sunday, March 18, 2012

Will Children’s Voices Improve Auto Safety?


Voice-guided navigation is one of those features that I think that every GPS ought to have. Be it an app or a dedicated unit, having your device able to call out directions is way more convenient and safe than having to constantly check the little screen while on the road. It’s almost like having a passenger navigate but without the side conversation and spilt drinks.

However, I have to admit that sometimes the default voices can be pretty terrible, especially on some of the older units. While a lot of units will have multiple options for voice (and GPS apps provide even more flexibility with celebrity voices) the choices are still a little limited and don’t really provide any benefit other than to break the boredom. Well, a Swedish company recently debuted a new app overseas that is designed to help keep children safe.

Called “Slow Down GPS” this GPS app has a database of all schools, daycares and other places where there are commonly a lot of children. Whenever a driver enters those zones, the GPS voice will switch to that of a child, although the directions will remain the same. The idea, the company says, is that it will prompt drivers to slow down and be more conscientious when in those zones.

Here’s a promotional video that the company released with the project, which has been nearly a year in the making:

Currently, the app is only available in Sweden, Finland and Norway although if it works I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar make its way to other countries.

Personally, I think that it’s a good idea and the idea that most people react unconsciously to a child’s voice is interesting and makes a lot of sense. Of course, for it to work people would have to actually download and use the app so it might not be as helpful as it sounds.

What do you think? Would you want your GPS to make such an audible switch when near school zones and such? Do you think it would work? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!


  1. Interesting app idea. A few thoughts. I don’t know if the sound, pitch or tone of the voice would make people more careful without some additional wording about what is nearby. Garmin uses a beep/tone in some units when near school zones, but not for day care businesses. I do find that garmin tone a bit annoying and wish it could be turned off. What about people that don’t have children? I think this app would resonate with parents of children. Some other thoughts, I can see companies like google using data about business and school locations to enhance their navigation calculations. What about routing people around and away from schools and day care centers, but only during school hours? I don’t know for sure, but do the navigation companies use this data to calculate route times? So if one is in a school zone with a lowered speed limit, shouldn’t the route time increase based on the time and distance traveled in that zone? Interesting possibilities to use data for safer navigation.

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