New Cerence Tour Guide AI Shares Audio Insight During Road Trips
Automotive voice tech developer Cerence can turn cars into museum docents with its new Tour Guide feature, which turns car voice assistants into AI-powered audio experts in the surrounding area. Tour Guide augments Cerence’s AI platform with information from partner companies to enlighten drivers and passengers on the history, geography, and nearby walking trails as they drive, with opportunities to book restaurants and other services along the way.
Tour Guide runs two different kinds of experiences. The Planned Tour mode is for when the route is known, whether a day trip or a cross-country excursion, while Explore Mode runs in the moment, using the AI to pick out interesting spots and pieces of information as the drive happens. In both cases, pre-set preferences for topics like history, hiking trails, arts, and more as well as how often the tour guide should speak determine what the experience is like. Along the way, if the tour guide suggests a stop at a museum or a place to get food, the driver can make the reservation or book tickets without stopping the car. Cerence’s partners provide the content for the tour guide, including Tripadvisor subsidiary Viator and its more than 400,000 affiliated activities for booking, and self-guided trip planner Road.Travel.
“As usage of AI-powered voice technologies grows in the car, we are always looking for new ways that we can add value to the in-car experience for OEMs and their drivers,” Cerence Applications vice president Nils Lenke said in a statement. “Cerence Tour Guide brings a completely new set of capabilities to the mobility assistant, furthering its role as a concierge on the go with a new ability to guide drivers and passengers through exciting new journeys and deepening the connection between driver and automaker.”
Audio guides make sense as an application for voice AI, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic makes the mere traditional museum experience a more fraught endeavor than usual. Cerence Tour Guide is for when traveling by car, but the same principle works for walking around wearing earbuds all day as many do. That’s what led Foursquare to develop the audio-only virtual assistant platform called Marsbot for AirPods that plays short clips of information based on location. The audio guide includes historical facts, as well as restaurant recommendations and business-oriented suggestions. Users can even leave their own audio marker, allowing them to say hello or offer an idea to others who pass the same way. The kind of location-aware, proactive audio has usually been strictly thought of as a navigation tool. Incorporating new databases and the AI to access and analyze them for relevance is a sign both of how the tech has evolved and how comfortable people are becoming with voice AI. The trick will be balancing the right amount of information with timing, especially if it includes advertisements and marketing.
“We’re excited to connect our marketplace of experiences to travelers using Cerence Tour Guide,” Viator vice president of business development Sarah Dines. “This is the first time Viator’s marketplace will be available through a voice-enabled system, and we’re excited to work with Cerence to help travelers explore their destinations, particularly as more travelers take to the road for vacation.”