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As BMW introduced the Dragon Drive voice control technology in its luxury 7 Series this week, it was another setback for GPS companies like Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) and Tom Tom. BMW’s technology, which is powered by Nuance Communication (NASDAQ:NUAN), pairs with the driver’s smartphone to help listen and respond to text messages and emails. It also features voice control commands, including finding directions to a specific address.
Dragon Drive could eventually be able to work with something similar to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri personal assistant, which in itself is a big threat to GPS systems. In June, Apple announced it would partner with Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota (NYSE:TM) to add Siri accessibility to cars with a push of a button on the steering wheel. Ford (NYSE:F) also offers its standalone Sync and My Ford Touch systems, with a library of almost 10,000 voice commands.
With the option of using a smartphone or built-in mapping app in place of a standalone $250 GPS system, more and more users are likely to shift to the former. Market research firm Strategy Analytics estimates the number of vehicles sold worldwide with built-in navigation systems will hit 56 million by 2019 from 9.5 million in 2009.
Dragon Drive will support five languages to start with, which are English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. It will be available as a 60-day trial for new car buyers, after which drivers will have to opt in for the service annually.
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