Monday, 9 August 2010

You know you make me wanna shout

Although they've only been part of our lives for a few years, it's hard to imagine a world before SatNavs came along to take the pain out of getting from A-to-B. We're so used to having those bossy little screens perched over our dashboards, we even use them to navigate us to places we already know how to find.

Despite making our journeys that little bit easier, the technology isn't without its flaws. Lost signals, slow load times and incorrectly programmed one-way-systems all make life on the road that little bit more interesting.

Plus, we mustn't underestimate the significance of user error - there seems to be a new story every week about some confused Mondeo driver who dunked their car in a lake because the SatNav "told me to". When you put your life in the hands of your automotive gadgetry, culpability goes out the passenger-side window.

Maybe it's the voice of the SatNav that causes these problems. They always sound so confident and self-assured, they couldn't possibly be leading us up the garden path (sometimes, quite literally), could they? Perhaps if they could adopt the tremulous uncertainty of a human passenger, attempting to read a coffee-stained map that's being held upside down, we'd retain the ability to think for ourselves.

But until the technology is advanced enough to say "Oh for god's sake, YOU see if you can make sense of this..." and then sulk for 150 miles, we'll just have to settle for novelty voices to help keep us focused on the route we're taking.

So it's celebratory virgin cocktails all round in recognition of the latest 'people power' campaign on Facebook. This time, a bunch of TomTom users have managed to entice over 25,000 fans to join a group called "Campaign to get Brian Blessed to do a voice over for my Sat Nav".

As a result, TomTom have extended an invitation to the bellowing beardie to lend his distinctive baritone to its downloadable database of voices. With a weary shrug of resignation, a company spokesman commented: "It shows the power of social media, and if we can bring happiness to over 25,000 people who are we to deny it?"

Assuming you don't have a nervous disposition or particularly sensitive hearing, you could soon be driving down the high street while Brian commands you to "Diiiiiiiiiiiiive". Take a wrong turn at the roundabout, and he'll proclaim "Ah well, who wants to live forever?"

Like all novelty ideas, it's worth a chuckle for a few minutes. Although I dare anyone to drive the length of Britain with Brian Blessed as their co-pilot. After an hour of being shouted at by an excitable septuagenarian, they'll be calculating the distance to Beachy Head.

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