Thursday, August 4, 2011

Watching You Tube: I Find Your Lack of Direction Disturbing

Ever wanted the voice of Darth Vader to give you directions as you drive?  Sure, we all have.  But now, thanks to Locutio Voice Technologies, in partnership with Lucasfilm, you can actually have it for your compatible Garmin GPS device.

They don't show it here, but if you want to, you can replace the little car graphic with a TIE fighter, to get the whole Imperial experience.  If that's a little dark for you, a Yoda voice is also available.  (With that one, of course, you can replace the car with an X-Wing.  Just try not to drive it into a swamp.  You probably don't have the Force, and having AAA isn't an adequate substitute.)

If you have a TomTom, you're also in luck.  Well, except inasmuch as, if yours is anything like mine, it keeps trying to guide you down streets that don't exist.  But you can have Darth Vader lead you down that wrong path!  Or Yoda, C-3PO, or Han Solo, although that wouldn't be as appropriate.  I suppose if it knew it was giving you bad instructions, C-3PO could apologize, or Han Solo could exclaim, "It's not my fault!"  But considering that a TomTom that smart could just give you good directions in the first place, that would be kind of perverse.

(By the way, this answers any question as to whether TomTom is paying me for this.  Neither is Garmin.  When some ruffians smashed in my car window during an Albuquerque Isotopes game, I was oddly pleased that they stole my Garmin, since I'd been resisting paying to replace the mistake-prone little twerp.  Now I had a need to.  And all it cost me was 200 extra bucks to replace the window.  Now, what the hell was I talking about?  Oh, yeah, Star Wars GPS voices.)

I guess the reason they don't have an Obi-Wan Kenobi voice is that it wouldn't do much good to have your GPS just tell you to trust your feelings and use the Force, and leave it at that.

On the TomTom Darth Vader page, they have sample of Vader telling you to get out of the roundabout by taking the "Sith exit."  I think maybe they were a little too clever there.  If I were hearing it for the first time, I would be wondering whether he meant "sixth," or "fifth" (which, the way most of us pronounce it, rhymes with "Sith").  And meanwhile, I'd be, you know, in a roundabout, anxious to get out in the right place.

Here's a video from TomTom of Darth Vader in the recording booth.  (They also have a video of Yoda, but I didn't like it as much.)

By the way, that's not the voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader.  And I have reason to believe it's not David Prowse in the suit, either.  I remember, when Revenge of the Sith came out, a female friend complained to me about how Lucas gave in to Hayden Christensen's request to wear the suit, since it led to a rather narrow Sith Lord.  She missed Prowse.  "He has the shoulders of a god!" she enthused.  I can't say that I'd noticed.  But now I can't see a Darth Vader without sizing up his shoulders.

Of course, if you'd rather not have Star Wars characters telling you where to go, you can always have Brian Blessed do it.  Although I think that would be a trifle... distracting.  But who wants to live forever?

I guess that one's mostly for Britons, since the price is in pounds, and it's not for your GPS, it's for your "sat nav."

Where credit is due: I learned about the Darth Vader Garmin skin via The AV Club.

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