The new system, which lets drivers perform various operations without using a manual interface, will be standard equipment on Acura's 2005 flagship RL and a $2,000 option on the 2005 Acura MDX sport-ute and Honda Odyssey minivan. The IBM software allows drivers to audibly request and receive driving directions, find restaurants, and mess with the radio and climate control units. Honda started using IBM's speech-recognition technology in 2003, but with the new version you won't think HAL is about to take over the craft and leave you to die in space, alone. Apparently the computer's responses are now more natural, and it can process over one hundred more commands than the original. Some prescients even think that voice recognition is becoming the most important interface between motorists and their vehicles, with 11 million systems predicted sold in 2010. And here all along I thought the most important interface was between the driver the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals…

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