Tested: Logitech ZeroTouch hands-free system

Published: 03 November 2016

► Logitech ZeroTouch tested
► Adds gesture and voice control
► Yours for upwards of £49.99

Everyone knows you shouldn’t text and drive – it’s as dangerous as it is stupid and, from 2017 onwards, could land you six points on your licence and a £200 fine.

While in-car Bluetooth systems have eliminated the need to touch your phone to make voice calls while driving, they’re no good for sending a quick message explaining you’ll be late for dinner.

Logitech’s new ZeroTouch smartphone mount, however, claims to be the solution to this problem.

What does it do?

It’s essentially an app that is activated automatically when your phone is physically connected to a special Logitech mount in your car. There are two of these to choose from – one clips into an air vent, the other sticks onto the dash, and your device is held on to it using science (well, magnets). 

ZeroTouch tested

Once docked the app will announce any calls, texts, emails and messages from Whatsapp and Facebook. You can ask to have them read out loud and then reply by simply speaking your message. The whole process is completely controlled by voice, removing any need to look away from the road or any press buttons on the screen.

To instigate any of the above manually, you wave your hand near the phone’s proximity sensor to bring up the command screen. You can then tell ZeroTouch to compose a message, make a phone call, cue up some music on Spotify, or programme an address into your chosen navigation app. 

It’s like Siri, then?

Not quite. Logitech says while existing voice control apps work well outside your car, they aren’t that great to use on the road – because they require you look at your phone to proofread your message or press a button on the screen to confirm what you’ve asked it to do. Not so with ZeroTouch.

ZeroTouch tested

This is a big deal – Logitech says reading out a text message with its app requires 0.3 seconds of your attention (in essence the time it takes to wave at your phone) – whereas sending one manually would take your eyes off the road for five seconds, with potentially disastrous results. 

Vadim Kogan, Logitech’s head of partnerships for smartphone business, said: ‘Our mission is safety – texting and driving is an epidemic and we are trying to reduce that risk of your eyes leaving the road.’

Any exciting functions?

Do you want pizza? Ask ZeroTouch to find a restaurant near you, then have it read out reviews from Yelp, plus the opening time, before getting it to call them so you can make a reservation.

ZeroTouch tested

If someone texts you and asks where you are, ZeroTouch will ask whether you want to send them a real time map of your location using Glympse.

Its best function however is its ease of use. You don’t have to remember to activate it because it’s on as soon as you connect it to the mount, and from there, everything is controlled by voice.

Verdict

While aftermarket Bluetooth systems have been on the market for a while now, most still require you to input instructions on the phone’s screen, at least for text messages. Even smartphone voice control apps require additional button pushes.

ZeroTouch brings together the most commonly used functions in an app that has been programmed with road-use in mind. It works seamlessly while taking your attention away from driving for the minimum amount of time possible. 

ZeroTouch tested

Unlike inbuilt voice control systems, the app can be updated with new functions for free without having to take your car into the garage. Logitech ZeroTouch is available with mounts for your air vent (£49.99) or dashboard (£59.99) and requires Android OS 4.4. A version for iPhone should follow.

Ultimately, though, we’d rather you just concentrated on driving – and there’s something morally questionable about a device that’s designed to allow even a small element of distraction.

That said, if treated with respect it’s not necessarily any worse than scanning for a radio station or holding a conversation. So, if you absolutely must interact with your phone while motoring, this is certainly a far safer and more controlled way of going about it.

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By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

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