October 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

GPS That Sings Along With Your Car Stereo

The Uninterrupter with GPS

The Uninterrupter is software, so the dashboard-mounted hula girl figurine is optional.

Technology lets us do things that would have been impossible just a few years ago, like driving through the West Village without getting lost. But as has been widely noted, sometimes all of this helpful technology can interrupt our train of thought or — in the case of car rides — our tunes.

Here’s something that would make even David Hasselhoff jealous: GPS for the car that sings navigation instructions along with the music, as opposed to interrupting it every five seconds. Andrew Shearer’s app, The Uninterrupter, maps words said by a GPS unit against notes songs playing from the same unit over the car stereo, pitching the GPS unit’s voice to align with those notes.

First, a snippet of interrupted life experienced without the benefit of The Uninterrupter, another clever hack that emerged from last weekend’s Boston Music Hack Day. It shows how GPS can really ruin the mood sometimes:

Normal GPS speech directions ruin the mood.

Shearer’s app attempts to smooth this out by converting GPS instructions into song (it runs MusiXMatch lyrics through the Yamaha speech synthesizer included with Canoris’ text-to-speech API, with the notes coming from a MIDI file or The Echo Nest’s beat and chord information, if you want to get technical about it):

Singing GPS for the win

Rather than an interruption, this is an “uninterruption,” but directional information is conveyed nonetheless. Fun? Yes. Goofy? Possibly. Ultimately, it could lead to apps that attempt to integrate technology into our day more intelligently — an important problem to solve, considering how much some complain about technological interruptions.

It’s impressive stuff, but The Uninterrupter’s other feature really takes things to the next level with the ability to sing over lyrics that could be mistaken for navigational instructions, such as The Byrd’s song “Turn, Turn, Turn.” What you’re about to hear is an early version of tomorrow’s speech synthesis, which could weave itself more smoothly into your music as you drive. Instead of The Byrds telling you to “turn, turn, turn,” it sings, “keep going straight”:

Actually, don't turn.

This is still bleeding-edge technology. As playful as it is, it could contain serious implications for how we’ll receive information and entertainment more harmoniously in the future, with fewer distractions — or at least more amusing ones.

If GPS’s and music players are smart now, shouldn’t they talk to each other? It can only result in fewer technology-related interruptions for us, and ultimately, we’re what all of this technology is for.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Jimmy_Joe)