Latest in Bluetooth

Image credit:

Aftermarket Eyes Free Siri button: Could it be possible?


After Monday's keynote, many of us here at TUAW wondered whether an aftermarket Eyes Free button was possible.

Eyes Free buttons, which will be integrated into several car lines, allow you to access Siri features by pressing a button on your car's steering wheel.

Apple is working with car manufacturers to integrate Siri into select voice control systems. Through the voice command button on your steering wheel, you'll be able to ask Siri questions without taking your eyes off the road.

Could this be created? With all due respect to Ian Betteridge, the answer to this headline is not "no" but "maybe".

For all that we'd love to kickstart up an effort on this, it turns out that the obstacles are both technological and legal.

The button would need to be paired to a phone, would need a power source, and would need to be installed securely on the steering wheel or attachable to a sun visor or provide some other mounting for use while driving.

With regard to technical viability, we already see similar features in the Jawbone Bluetooth earpiece line with its support for voice dialing. Press and hold the earpiece button and you invoke VoiceControl on older iPhones and Siri on newer ones.

So the tech challenges aren't insurmountable. It would have to be a little more specialized than other aftermarket Bluetooth buttons currently on sale, but only in that the button would be limited to invoking Siri.

There are already kits available to wire up existing buttons to aftermarket devices, like the one discussed in this forum post. (Look about halfway down the page, where you press the button for two seconds to place a call, that's how you'd invoke Siri.) In other words, we could easily see this be a product in the $30-$50 range, especially with less snazzy requirements for lower-end cars.

I contacted Matthias Ringwald, expert on all things Bluetooth, to discuss what it would take to install an after-market Siri button in a car, specifically tied to voice dialing. What Ringwald thinks might stand in the way could be "made for iPhone" licensing. Apple might require participation for certification, so the product could be sold as intended.

As for the tech, he told TUAW, "If it's part of the regular hands free profile (HFP), it shouldn't be hard to add."

UPDATE: An anonymous source tells TUAW that Apple detailed the API for Eyes Free Siri in the WWDC Bluetooth sessions.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr