Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Get Off My GPS, Please!

How May I help You?

I Can't Do That, Dave

I have to admit a certain dissatisfaction with the GPS in the car. Oh, it gets me where I want to go, even though it sometimes takes me in a roundabout way if I have an inkling of a shortcut (not unlike the passenger that sits alongside me in the front seats). The "recalculating" voice and the "turn left in 500 feet" when I HAVE IT! FOR GOD'S SAKE! definitely push me over the edge at times, and I find myself screaming at the infernal thing. The fact that it's saved me from Mapquest and a thousand other questions is besides the point. I hate the voice and the smug way it (she) seems to know everything. I'm a guy! I don't need no stinkin' directions...even when I do.
Thus, it's no wonder that questions have arisen about Siri, the voice in Apple's new iPhone that is used for voice-activated commands. The voice is female...not that such a thing in itself is bad, but taking directions from...a female? Wow! That takes a LOT for most guys. However, there are numerous reasons why the voice is as it is...much like I suspect it is reasonable in my GPS.
Even in the automotive industry, the automated voice prompts have long been in female voices based on extensive consumer research, according to Tim Bajarin, a Silicon Valley analyst. (The only exception is in Germany where men in BMW's refused to take directions from a woman so the company changed the voice to a male one.
Researchers have long proven that a female's voice is much more pleasant than the average male voice. According to Stanford University professor Clifford Noss, the human brain is developed to find the female voice more pleasing, and this preference begins in the womb! Researchers have found that fetuses respond to the sound of their mother's voice, but they do not have any reaction to the father's voice. Hmmmm.
Face it, long before cell phones, the telephone operators (remember them?) were female. Most of our early education came in the tonal quality of a female, and we certainly spent more time with Mom than with Dad.
Still, even though Siri's voice is not so utterly human that we forget that it is not a real woman, some folks are bound to notice that this is yet another male bastion (if there ever WAS one) being dominated by the fairer sex.
Call that fair?
While I understand the reasons behind the voice on my GPS, I will continue to scream at both it and the other passenger: "I'VE GOT IT!"
Even when I don't.


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