Honda to Launch Personal Assistant, “OK Honda,” at CES 2020 Backed by SoundHound

Honda revealed a preview of the advanced automotive technology it plans to show off at CES this year, including new voice tech integrations. Honda will feature its Honda Personal Assistant, a voice assistant created in a collaboration with SoundHound, along with new ways to control smartphones from the car.

OK Honda Voice Assistant

Honda inked a deal with SoundHound in the fall of 2018 to work on a voice assistant for Honda cars built on its Houndify platform. The partnership grew out of SoundHound’s involvement in the Honda Xcelerator program. The Honda Personal Assistant will respond to “OK Honda” as a wake word, and carry out requests from the driver including running the car’s entertainment system and environmental controls. The voice assistant will also be able to apply the conversational history, location, and other context clues to answer questions about nearby restaurants or previously visited gas stations, for instance.

Honda’s other voice integration involves the technology it gained when acquiring the smartphone-connection service startup Drivemode last October. The resulting “Smartphone as Brain” feature is designed to make connecting and controlling a smartphone safer for motorcyclists. Once the device is connected to the motorcycle by Bluetooth, the driver can control it by voice or with steering handle switches.

SoundHound As Platform Alternative

SoundHound has been accruing new automotive partners at a steady rate. Most recently, Kia announced that the Seltos line of cars will include a Houndify-based voice assistant. SoundHound has also integrated its technology into Hyundai on the Venue SUV earlier this summer, the first voice-enabled SUV in India, along with PSA Groupe and Mercedes. SoundHound’s automotive ventures are only one facet of its efforts to spread Houndify to new markets. Pandora’s voice mode uses Houndify, as do the voice assistants in hotel rooms provided by Samsung subsidiary Harman Professional Solutions.

Using SoundHound means Honda has more control of its data than if it had partnered with Amazon or Google for a voice assistant. That’s a major draw for automotive companies and one reason several have partnered with SoundHound or created their own voice assistant in-house like Ford. Honda will likely be only one of several car companies highlighting their use of voice technology at CES. There’s going to be a steep rise in the space in the next few years according to a Capgemini Research Institute report claiming 73% of drivers are going to be using an in-car voice assistant by 2022.


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