Since this story was originally posted, it has been updated to include additional information about the DIR-ECT-IONS service.
A group of experts in the field of voice user interfaces, speech-recognition technology and navigation have banded together to create a voice-activated system, called DIR-ECT-IONS, that provides mobile phone users with driving directions and store location services via SMS/text messages, according to a July 16 press release.
The service, from Dial Directions, is free for any U.S. cell phone user, except for any SMS messaging charges that may be incurred by service providers, the company said. Dial Directions also claims it's "the first of its kind" and will function with any handset from all U.S. carriers.
"Now you can get directions anytime by calling and asking—no downloads, special phone or Web plan," said Amit Desai, cofounder of Dial Directions, in the press release. "DIR-ECT-IONS opens up location-based services to all cell phone users, the majority of whom want something easier and more available than today's complicated 'smart' phones."
Most mobile phones with Internet access can get driving directions from sites like Google Maps or Yahoo Maps, but DIR-ECT-IONS is different because it's voice-activated so users can keep their hands on the wheel when retrieving directions.
To use the service, users need only dial DIR-ECT-IONS (347-328-4667), say a starting point and destination, and directions are delivered to their mobile phones, according to Dial Directions. Turn-by-turn directions from providers like MapQuest are shortened to make reading while driving simpler. However, text message-based directions aren't ideal, as users will have to be checking their cell phones while driving to utilize them, a common problem with mobile phone-based GPS navigators.
Retail stores like 7-Eleven, Borders Book Store, Chipotle, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Shell Gas, Trader Joe's and many more can also be found via the DIR-ECT-IONS service.
A beta version is currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and Los Angeles, and Dial Directions plans to expand its coverage area to the top dozen U.S. metro areas over the coming months, according to the company.
Currently DIR-ECT-IONS is available only in English, and it doesn't take into account such factors as traffic or detours.
Additional information can be found on the company's website.