Len Klie

Speech Is Assured a Place on the Road Ahead

Speech in the car has gotten a lot of press in the last few weeks, thanks to key initiatives from speech processing technology providers Microsoft and SVOX.

SVOX earlier this month announced that it is working with German automaker Volkswagen to develop natural language understanding (NLU) voice interfaces for the car. The ambitious goal of the “Voice Control” research project is to eliminate the need for specific voice commands to control in-car functions. Instead of being strictly guided through a menu, drivers can use their natural, everyday speech to control their car’s address book functionality.

Then just last week, Microsoft, already a leader in the in-car infotainment systems market with its widely popular SYNC system, and its latest successor, MyFord Touch, released Windows Embedded 7 to select car makers and parts suppliers. Key features, powered by Microsoft’s Tellme technology, include speech commands, touch input, hands-free Bluetooth phone communications, advanced dashboard systems for access to music, maps, third-party apps and navigation, and streamlined connectivity with other devices. New support for SMS reply by voice allows text message replies to be constructed by speech. Windows Embedded Automotive 7 also supports eight languages: U.S. and U.K. English,  German, Mexican and European Spanish, Canadian and European French, and Korean.

Drivers and passengers today can experience Windows Embedded Automotive in more than 80 vehicle models through worldwide partnerships with auto makers Ford, Kia, Fiat, and Nissan, and components manufactures Paccar and Alpine Electronics.

All this shows that while governments are trying to regulate the use of phones and other devices in the car, consumers are still showing strong demand for access to multimedia content, productivity solutions, and connected services from their in-car systems. And the fact that so many car manufacturers are now helping with the research and adoption of these technologies will continue to turn the car of tomorrow into a natural extension of the connected digital world outside.