Cars

Cerence Debuts Tool for Customizing Your Car’s Voice Assistant 

Automotive artificial intelligence developer Cerence debuted a new tool for creating customized voice assistants in cars. My Car, My Voice synthesizes a voice out of recordings submitted by the user, turning the voice in the car giving directions or incoming messages into whoever the driver wishes.

A Clone of My Own

A mobile app prompts the user to record several sentences and Cerence’s neural net and text-to-speech technology does the rest. The voice can even be adjusted for a more or less humorous variation. The idea is to offer people a friendlier option to the usual voice assistants in a car. Drivers can have a friend or family member’s voice on the road with them, or even just their own. According to Cerence, this makes using a voice assistant in the car feel more natural and people are quicker to respond to a familiar voice, improving safety.

“We pride ourselves on building the most natural, convenient and fun in-car voice assistants in the world,” Cerence CEO Sanjay Dhawan said in a statement. “Cerence My Car, My Voice takes the experience to a whole new level – imagine having your spouse, partner, best friend or other family member as the voice within your car. We’re delighted to introduce this innovation to our customers and their drivers, bringing a bit more humanity and spirit to their journeys.”

Cerence may be first to bring voice cloning to cars, but the technology is growing in other places. Resemble AI just debuted a home tool for doing the same thing, while Replica Studios closed a $2.5 million seed funding round to further develop its own option. Amazon and Google have their own artificial speech generation, though not for consumer use. Amazon used its neural text-to-speech (NTTS) technology to enable Alexa to imitate Samuel L. Jackson’s voice.

Auto Speech

Cerence is the automotive-focused spin-off of Nuance. The company started operating independently in October, trading on NASDAQ under its own ticker. The company’s stock was ticking up slightly Monday morning after My Car, My Voice was announced, though that may be in part due to Cerence announcing its highest revenue during its quarterly report earlier in December, beating expectations. Cerence works with more than 60 automakers around the world and claims to be in nearly 300 million cars currently on the road speaking more than 70 languages. That kind of international breadth and localization is part of why the company is able to maintain partnerships with so many carmakers.

Automotive voice assistants are continuing to proliferate rapidly. A recent Capgemini Research Institute report predicts that close to three-quarters of drivers will use one by 2022. SoundHound’s Houndify platform is powering Honda and Kia among others, while Amazon and Google are pushing their own variations on automotive voice assistants and Ford has built one in-house. More often than not, a car will include more than one option, with an in-built voice assistant as well as options for connecting Alexa or Google Assistant. General Motors allows users to pick Alexa or the Cerence-powered GM voice assistant, but only one at a time. A custom voice option might be the feature that leads people to pick Cerence over Alexa.

  

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