Gwnewch y pethau bychain

The problem with brilliant ideas is having them first…

Weekend before last was a fabulous and fun trip up to Massachusetts, about which I really ought to talk about in a separate post. But what I really wanted to talk about was driving.

Oddly, despite the number of trips I’d previously made to New England, I’d never once been a driver there. I’d always been picked up by someone, or relied entirely on public transportation. (Or, y’know, hired a stretch limo, but that was a one time thing.)

Despite the legendary reputation of Massachusetts drivers, I really had no troubles at all. Of course, one of the reasons for this is that we have a GPS unit, specifically the Garmin StreetPilot c550 that I bought kitanzi for Christmas. Aside from a couple of odd bumps, it’s been an awesome little gadget, and one I’m glad to have in our possession.

Recently, I updated the software on it, and in the process downloaded some extra voice packs. So now we can have the GPS give us directions in an English or Australian accent, and we had fun playing with it. Now, I’m hardly the first person to think “Gee, there should be celebrity voice packs.” But it occurred to me that there’s really only one actor who I’d want to be powering my GPS…William Daniels. Why, I bet you could make a fortune if you could put the voice of KITT (not to mention the voice of John Adams…As you miss a turn, it could exclaim “What in God’s name are you waiting for?”)

Well, it turns out that someone else already had that idea:

The Knight Rider GPS can be customized to speak your name from a list of 300 popular names. Once you’ve selected a name, the voice of William Daniels will greet you with a random selection of phrases such as “XXX, where would you like to go today?” or “XXX, I’m really looking forward to this.” Your selected name replaces the “XXX.” Then, the Knight Rider will instruct you, for example, to turn right at 500 feet, but won’t pronounce the street names.

Based on Mio’s Moov 300 series, the Knight Rider GPS has a 4.3-inch screen, a 20-channel SiRF Star III receiver, measures 5.51 by 3.15 by 0.76 inches and weighs 6 ounces. The case has been redesigned to accommodate the flashing LEDs, and the Moov interface is “skinned” with a color scheme that seems appropriate for Knight Rider.

Despite the fact that I totally love the idea, I feel sorry for the people with unusual first names, as they will once again be left out of the customized product business, just like the keychains they sell at the county fair. But I think it’s incredibly cool that someone has done this.

The product is apparently available in stores as of last moth, and you can find out more info at their website.

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8 Comments

  1. If I’m going to have William Daniels talking to me through my GPS, I don’t want him to be affable and accommodating. That’s just wrong.

  2. I want one with Eartha Kitt!

  3. I’d love to have one, but there’s no way in the Wide Green World the name “Royce” is going to be one of the options.

    • Why not? I speak here from over a decade of experience in speech technology (Sr. Linguist, Dragon Systems, 1990-2001). We had large & extensive lists of first & last names in our products. If you’re wondering how much they can fit in a GPS unit, try the “word” texting mode on a cellphone (but not while driving… ANY vehicle!).

      And if they don’t have “Royce”, the technology should be able to derive the pronunciation from the spelling. And as for names like, oh, “Hélène”, the capability exists for the user to specify “sounds like: aylenn”.

      Whether the mfr. will provide all this is another question.
      (Sent from my PDA)

  4. I’m telling you, there is nothing like being driven around on scarily-foreign roads with a GPS giving directions, in German, in a bad impression of the Pope’s voice. I’m just glad I wasn’t driving.

  5. I want Walter Koenig. (As Chekov, not Bester, please!)

  6. I still want (at least as a part-time option) my GPS directions given in a Dalek voice.

    “YOU HAVE MISSED THE TURN!!! RE-CAL-CU-LA-TING!”

  7. http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/freemanic_paracusia.png (WARNING: NSFW HUMOR)

    “You seem to have missed a turn. My my. Isn’t that something. Let me just recalculate for a bit.”

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