There used to be a time when, if a person heard voices in their head, other people would come along with concerned expressions and lead the poor soul gently away. Not so today. Today the voices are everywhere; they are in your earphones and your headsets and your smartphones and your televisions. There is no escaping the voices in your head and as of very shortly there will be no escaping them in the car either.
The Tech Giants Are Coming
Voices heard inside cars now and in the future are rapidly changing because the technology giants of cyberspace are gaining ground in the automotive space. Previously, voice functions in our motors did not work well, as some TV motoring presenters have demonstrated in the past. A driver would have to phrase a question in a very word-specific way or get blanked by the voice within the dashboard. Now, voice systems in cars are getting better and more intuitive. Already Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto appear increasingly in our cars and in the next few years it is estimated that our choice will be 55% for Apple and 34% Android.
New Voices, New Alliances
Technology like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are becoming integrated in our smartphones for things such as remote start, unlock and fuel levels. Alexa wishes to talk to you at home and on the road and Alexa Auto is being rolled out soon. The Amazon ‘Echo Auto’ automotive speaker with microphones connects to the Alexa app on a smartphone enabling hands-free voice operation of music, phone calls, navigation, music, audible books, shopping and to-do lists; all while in the motor.
Earlier this year big names like Amazon, Baidu, BMW, Microsoft, Orange, Salesforce, Sonos, Spotify, Verizon and a number of other participants announced that they will support multiple, interoperable voice services and multiple wake-up words on a single device, called the Voice Interoperability Initiative. It’s not quite that straightforward as brands will naturally want to retain their own identity. It will be difficult to coordinate multiple wake-up words so that all the voice assistants will play nicely together. For example, if someone hits the button on the steering wheel and says ‘Play Music’, will it play CarPlay music, Amazon music or embedded music?
The Future Now
The whole idea of voice assistants is to help plan the route or your day, whether it is to order milk (for your smart ‘fridge obviously), book a table or find the easiest way to get to the Lake District.
The plan is for the voice interface to increase safety and decrease the habit of looking down at a smartphone. Car makers will need to invest in a seamless automotive voice experience for their users that does not just work, but works well, unlike many of the earlier examples. Car brands and technology leaders believe that in-car voice AI is a must-have for the public who are growing up with voice interaction and want to be able to speak to the car in a natural way.
In short car-speak has to become natural if we are to converse with our vehicles rather than just give orders in odd, clipped phrases, even to the point of asking complex questions. Here at eCars247 we too are happy to answer questions about the great used cars we sell, although our comprehensively detailed website should answer most queries. With finance options, a full AA inspection and even home delivery, we’ll leave the talking to our cars.