Vehicular Voice Tech at CES 2020
Vehicles had another big year at CES and voice technology popped up with innovative ways to be a part of road trips. A voice assistant is now almost standard on the road, whether innate to the car or provided by a connection to another device. Here are some of the top destinations for automobile voice tech at CES this year.
There was a notable crop of announcements when it came to cars with new voice assistants this year. As expected, Amazon announced that the Alexa voice assistant would expand into several new cars. The voice assistant will be integrated into Lamborghini Huracan Evos, along with the Rivian R1S and R1T. Rivian is also going to integrate the voice assistant into the 100,000 electric Amazon delivery vans it is building. For those cars that aren’t integrating the voice assistant into the vehicle, Amazon also offers the Echo Auto device, which it announced at CES will begin to be sold internationally. Sales in India start on January 15, with other countries to follow later this year.
Honda had its own spate of car voice assistant news, debuting the Honda Personal Assistant, a voice assistant built on SoundHound’s Houndify platform at CES. The partnership is an outgrowth of SoundHound’s place in the Honda Xcelerator program. The new voice assistant will run entertainment and environmental controls for Honda cars while using conversational history, location, and other context clues to help drivers get around. Honda has also begun integrating the “Smartphone as Brain” feature from the technology it gained when acquiring the startup Drivemode. The new feature connects a smart device to a motorcycle by Bluetooth and allows the driver to control it using the voice assistant or with steering handle switches.
A driver’s voice will be all that’s needed to pay for gas at 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations in the U.S. for drivers in cars with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Drivers at the pump ask Alexa to pay for gas and start filling up. Amazon Pay and financial tech giant Fiserv will handle the request from Alexa. The payment won’t need any new memberships since the money will come from an existing Amazon Pay account. And Commerce by voice in the car won’t just be limited to gas. SiriusXM announced its own deal with Visa for a method of paying just by making a vocal request in the car. The connected-vehicle services Sirius announced last year at CES will power the new feature, which the companies say will apply not only to fuel but parking and food purchased from the car.
Getting directions and navigating with the help of a voice assistant is getting easier, especially now that voice tech developer Speechmatics and navigation software platform what3words released their new API at CES this week. The world gets by what3words’ location technology into three-meter squares with unique three-word addresses. The new API combines that with uses Speechmatics’ speech recognition to turn a spoken three-word phrase into GPS coordinates and an address more quickly and with fewer mistakes than the current standard allows. Though what3words is used with the voice assistants in some cars already built by Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Tata, those automakers each had to build a voice platform to slot the navigation technology into. With the new API, that development should be faster and easier for companies to complete, bringing voice navigation into a huge swath of new vehicles.