Google KITT lets you safely drive while using your phone

Google is rumored to be working on a new feature for its Google Search Android app and this one is sure to ruffle a few feathers. The search giant is believed to be working on a certain "KITT" functionality that would offer users always-on, hands-free and, more importantly, eye-free access to Google Search and, by consequence, Google Now.

Named after the intelligent vehicle of the Knight Rider TV series, this functionality is meant to do everything that is implied by that character's role. The basic goal is to give users access to their smartphones or tablets using only their voice, without having to even glance at the device. This means, in a driving scenario, that users won't even have to take their eyes off the road for even a split-second, which, sometimes, could be the difference between life and death.

Glimpses of this feature can already be seen in Android today, particularly in the Motorola Moto X, which has been the poster child for such voice-only interaction. But even with its more generic Google Search app, part of that functionality already exists, but in raw and incomplete bits. In some cases, while one can initiate searches or actions by voice and receive feedback through voice as well, confirming them would still require manual intervention. In other cases, like with web search results, there are just too many items to conveniently speak out. Google is said to be still in the drawing board on these issues.

While the immediate beneficiaries of this Google Search KITT feature will be Android devices and users, it's not that difficult to place it inside Google's overall strategy for its presence on the highway. Whether it be in the form of smartphones or tablets docked to cars, or Android-powered dashboards, or completely autonomous vehicles, Google wants to also be a part of this aspect of human life. Of course, that road won't be without its bumps, particularly when it comes to legal hurdles. Google is already facing opposition from lawmakers regarding the use of Google Glass on the road. A feature that practically encourages using your mobile device while driving is bound to raise some questions.

That said, "KITT" is nowhere near ready for prime time. According to sources, right now the feature works only with Android devices that are being charged, probably because of the increased battery consumption that such an always-on system incurs. Google is also still searching for ways to make search results and actions completely eyes-free, including saving multiple web links for later viewing and automatically completing some actions without waiting for user confirmation, which is, admittedly, a worrying feature if not implemented properly.

VIA: Android Police