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Mercedes and Siri Team Up to Offer Hands-Free Heaven
People often talk to their cars, but very few talk back. In fact, it seems to be only movie cars that can converse with their owners, so unless you happen to be Shia LaBeouf you're pretty much out of luck. Or are you? As it turns out, Mercedes-Benz, an automaker known for upscale luxury vehicles and innovation in the automotive field, is working to turn your favorite escape into the KITT you've been dreaming of since Knight Rider first hit the airwaves. While your car won't warn you about incoming missiles (how did all those people get missile anyway?) or shoot your enemies with lasers, it will link up to your iPhone 4S in order to get the Siri system you love in sync with your automobile. This is fantastic news for a couple of reasons. First, many states have enacted (or are in the process of creating legislation for) hands-free cell phone laws for drivers, which means using your phone in the car will have to be a voice-activated affair (sorry, no touching). But even more important than obeying the laws of your state is your personal safety, not to mention the safety of anyone else in your vehicle or in other cars on the road. And by teaming up with Apple to integrate the Siri system into their lineup (with even the entry-level cars gaining access), Mercedes-Benz could just be producing some of the safest cars on the road. It works simply enough by downloading an app created by Mercedes, the Drive Kit Plus. This allows your car to connect to your iPhone 4S via Bluetooth in order to transfer the voice-command functionality to your in-dash display (along with the visual interface featured on your smartphone). So with the help of pre-programmed commands you can ask for directions, send and receive messages, check the weather, or even make appointments, totally hands-free. In short, anything Siri can do, your car can now do. But it's even better than using your phone because now you don't have to touch anything. While your smartphone requires at least one tap to activate Siri, you can access the system in your car by voice or by pushing a button on your steering wheel (which doesn't break any hands-free laws). And it gets even better. You can also download the supplemental Digital DriveStyle app to get navigation based on real-time traffic reports, a 3D Garmin map, and personalized radio stations, amongst other things. Mercedes has also announced plans to launch an app store and a dozen new applications over the course of the coming year, including Parking Finder (which, as you may have guessed, helps you find parking) and Morningstar Finance (so you can check your stock prices while you commute). You may not be able to customize show plates or wash your car by voice command just yet, but the talking car that lived only in science fiction a few decades ago is now a reality. And having the Siri system in your Mercedes will only make an already-exceptional ride a little safer and a lot more fun. Editor’s Note Thanks to Evan Fischer for this quest post. He is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.