Your car could become virtual personal assistant

February 21, 2017

We are now used to cars that understand what we say. Experts predict that in future they may also know how we feel – for example, whether we have had a bad day at the office – sometimes without us having to say a word.

 

Nearly 90 percent of all new cars are expected to offer voice recognition capability by 2022. * The next step for the cars of tomorrow could be to pick up on tiny changes in our facial expression as well as modulations and inflections in our speaking voice, easing the driving experience for consumers.

 

Automotive assistant leveraging voice recognition and artificial intelligence could learn which songs we like to hear when we are stressed and those occasions we prefer to simply enjoy silence. Interior lighting could also complement our mood.

 

“We’re well on the road to developing the empathetic car which might tell you a joke to cheer you up, offer advice when you need it, keep away all unnecessary trouble when you’re stressed, remind you of birthdays and keep you alert on a long drive,” said Fatima Vital, senior director, Marketing Automotive, Nuance Communications, which helped us to develop voice recognition of the SYNC in-car connectivity system.

 

Cloud-based voice control is anticipated to be available on 75 per cent of new cars by 2022, * and it is predicted future systems would evolve into personal assistants that shuffle appointments and order takeaways when drivers are held up in traffic jams.

 

Movie fans will recall in the film “Her,” Scarlett Johansson’s character Samantha catered to Theodore Twombly’s every command, as a virtual assistant system, which with uncanny accuracy, learned his mood, needs and wants – just from the sound of his voice. Someday soon, your car could do something similar.

 

This summer, our in-car connectivity system SYNC 3 will enable drivers to connect to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa and offers 23 different languages and many local accents. By accessing cloud-based resources, cars of the future could enable even more drivers to speak their native language, good news for those celebrating International Mother Language Day.

 

“Voice commands like ‘I’m hungry’ to find a restaurant and ‘I need coffee’ have already brought SYNC 3 into personal assistant territory,” said Mareike Sauer, voice control engineer, Ford of Europe. “Eventually, drivers will not only be able to use their native tongue, spoken in their own accent, but also use their own wording, for more natural speech.”

 

 

Apple CarPlay™ provides a simplified way to use the iPhone interface on a car’s touch screen, giving users access to Siri Eyes-Free voice controls, as well as Apple Maps, Apple Music, Phone, Messages, and a variety of third party apps. Android Auto™ delivers Google Maps and music to a car’s screen while enabling voice controls for phone calls and messaging. *

 

A research project we are currently running with RWTH Aachen University, includes using multiple microphones to improve speech processing and reduce the effect of external noise and potential disruptions. Nuance says that within the next two years, voice control systems could prompt us with: “Would you like to order flowers for your mum for Mothers’ Day?” “Shall I choose a less congested but slower route home?” and “You’re running low on your favourite chocolate and your favourite store has some in stock. Want to stop by and pick some up?”

 

Future gesture and eye control would enable drivers to answer calls by nodding their head, adjust the volume with short twisting motions, and set the navigation with a quick glance at their destination on a map.

 

So is there a danger that, as in the movie “Her,” we might fall for our advanced voice recognition systems?

 

“In-car systems will be capable of taking the context of almost any situation into account, and will be able to train themselves without human intervention. Language-wise, they won’t need to stick to a narrow script, and could even start to coin words and phrases of their own,” said Dominic Watt, senior lecturer, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York. “As the technology gets ever smarter we will become accustomed to talking to the systems much as we talk to other people, and the systems will learn to adapt to us.”

 

At Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, in Barcelona, next week, we will reveal the next advances in mobility and connectivity.

 

SYNC languages include Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (Australian), English (UK), English (US), French, French (Canada), German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Spanish (Mexico), Swedish, Taiwanese, Turkish, Coming next year are English (India), Finnish and Thai.

Apple, Apple CarPlay, iPhone, Apple Maps, and Siri are trademarks of Apple Inc. Android Auto, Google, Google Play and other marks are trademarks of Google Inc.

Topics: ford Technology
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