Peugot, Citroën, DS and Opel of Groupe PSA Select SoundHound for In-Car Voice Experience
SoundHound announced that car maker Groupe PSA has chosen the Houndify voice AI platform to power in-car voice experiences for its brands including Peugot, Citroën, DS and Opel. The voice solution will be available beginning in 2020 and the announcement summarized the voice features by saying:
“With the Houndify integration, drivers will be able to perform a variety of tasks simply by speaking naturally, including: finding nearby restaurants and businesses, adjusting temperature and air conditioning, launching connected services, and more. Language roll-out plans are being developed to make available globally.”
In other words, the Hound voice assistant will be able to control in-car features such as climate control and entertainment and also answer questions and presumably engage services outside the car similar to what we expect from the consumer voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa. It is the features outside the car where Hound is differentiating itself from Nuance which has the largest footprint today for in-car voice control. Hound started as a voice assistant on the phone tackling everyday consumer needs and has added the integrated controls for the driving experience. Nuance is working to add the everyday needs through Dragon drive, but it is a broad set of domains that need to be addressed.
SoundHound Driving for More In-Car Experiences
SoundHound already has initiatives with Hyundai and Kia which are expected to introduce the Hound voice assistant into cars in 2019. However, despite Daimler’s participation in SoundHound’s recent $100 million funding round, the Mercedes MBUX solution is based on Nuance Dragon Drive technology. This is an example of how hard it can be to get into a car platform and the long lead times associated with integration. So, the Groupe PSA announcement is all the more important to demonstrate SoundHound’s momentum in the automotive sector.
The Battle for In-Car Attention
Don’t be confused by the many Alexa and Google Assistant auto announcements that are restricted to telematics or entertainment and information options from the dashboard. Most of these do not include in-car controls related to driving. Automakers are hesitant to hand a commodity as precious as consumers’ in-car attention and choices over to third parties that control the user experience and don’t share data. SoundHound and Nuance both stress that the automaker controls the entire experience and has access to all of the data when using their solutions. SoundHound says the Houdify integration, “enables developers and business owners to deploy a conversational interface anywhere and retain control of their brand and users.” Alexa and Google Assistant are likely to be everywhere, but in the car you can expect them to have bounded capabilities as automakers attempt to maintain control over the driving experience. SoundHound is quickly becoming an important auto industry partner that offers voice along with brand and data control.