Utah teens hoping to gain the freedom that comes with having their very own driver’s license now have at least one more digital tool at their disposal in order to get ready for the exam. That’s according to an announcement made by both the state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Department of Technology Services on January 8. In fact, the exam is available on no other platform than Google Home. Specifically, Utahns who own or have access to the Google Assistant-enabled device will now be able to practice up for their exam through a practice exam through Google Home. Getting started is straightforward, with users simply needing to trigger the device’s listening mechanism by saying “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” followed by the command “Open Utah Driver License Practice Exam.” Assistant will then ask a series of questions which will actually be asked on the real exam, waiting for a response from the user in between each. Presumably, Google will tell a user the correct answer if they get some of them wrong and will inform users when they answer correctly.
Chris Caras, the current Driver License Division Director for the DPS, lauded the state’s decision to implement the tool. According to Caras, DPS is always on the lookout for innovate ways to educate drivers and the use of Google Home’s functionality will allow the state’s residents to prepare for the test in more ways than ever. Meanwhile, Utah’s Chief Information Officer, Mike Hussey, appeared hopeful that digital assistant’s like Google’s Home could be put to further use in the future, saying that they provide an “incredible opportunity” for simplifying interactions with the state’s government. The sentiments make sense with consideration for the explosive growth of the IoT, smart home products, and technology in general over the past year or more. As the advances become ubiquitous, it’s likely that many other functions ordinarily handled at a state or local government level will be found that can be served through similar methods.
In the meantime, Google Home users outside of the state of Utah who want to try out the new feature to see how it works may be out of luck. Subsequent tests of the voice command, from outside of the state, have resulted in Google’s Assistant responding that it doesn’t know how to help with that. So it may be that the feature is geo-locked and will only work when accessed from within the state or it may just be down temporarily for one reason or another.
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