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Switching Your Car’s GPS to a Child’s Voice Could Make the Roads Safer for Everyone

Makers of a new navigation system hope that hearing a child’s voice in play-heavy areas will help drivers avoid preventable accidents

image via youtube screen capture

Plugging a GPS navigator onto the dashboard of our cars had made it immeasurably easier to get around new cities or take unfamiliar routes. Rather than a fold-out map lying across the passenger side seat, we can now simply hit the gas, and wait for a neutral voice to politely remind us that our turn is on the left, or our destination is on the right. It’s convenient, sure, but GPS systems may also be making us more complacent behind the wheel. By conditioning ourselves to navigate based primarily on computerized directions, are we becoming less engaged with the process of driving itself, and similarly, less aware of our overall surroundings? And, if that’s the case, what can we do to ensure our GPS-induced complacency isn’t making the roads a more dangerous place?


That’s the question on the minds of If IT Services A/S, the makers of the “Slow Down” app. While at first, the app may seem like a standard, voice-directed GPS navigation system, Slow Down is unique in one respect: The moment a driver nears a school, day care center, or any other spot designated as a child-heavy area, the app stops issuing directions in its usual adult voice, and switches to a child’s voice instead. The effect is intended to jar drivers into being that much more aware of their surroundings the moment they’re somewhere with a heightened risk of potentially striking a child.

As one of the drivers in the above ad explains, humans are psychologically hard-wired to respond to children’s voices. And so, when suddenly faced with a child’s voice giving directions, the driver will immediately be more on the lookout for children in the area.

AdWeek points out that the app’s child voice option is currently only available in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. However, If’s website has a section for users to recommend other sites for which to extend the feature, as well as an invitation to anyone in automotive industry to learn more about the app, presumably as a prelude to expanding the service.

Slow Down is available for both Apple, and Android devices.

[via design taxi]

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