Spotify is Using ReadSpeaker’s Voice AI for ‘Car Thing’ Smart Device
The Spotify Car Thing device interacts with drivers using the text-to-speech (TTS) tech developed by digital voice interface creator ReadSpeaker. The custom voice heard by those chosen for Spotify’s experiment relies on a version of the same platform as the one that will train pilots to fly the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.
Spotify Car Thing
The Spotify Car Thing is an automotive audio player currently undergoing a beta test by a number of Spotify Premium subscribers who managed to sign up for the limited run of devices. Drivers can mount the Car Thing on their vent or dashboard and pull up their music and other audio content by asking Spotify’s voice assistant or manipulating the device’s touchpad and joystick. There are also four buttons users can assign to specific playlists. Spotify came up with the Car Thing as a way to simplify how drivers access the streaming service. Those listening to Spotify on a mobile device can simply transfer the sound to the car as the Car Thing piggybacks off of smartphones for internet access.
Though it went unmentioned when Spotify first unveiled the Car Thing, ReadSpeaker’s VoiceLab tech is generating the voice users hear when they say “Hey Spotify,” and that reads out any text on the screen. The April release of the voice assistant wake word predates the Car Thing, but the operation is the same. Spotify has been rumored to be working on a voice assistant for a few years but preferred to pick a specialist company for the gig. ReadSpeaker claims its experience with on-device and cloud-powered AI and its naturalistic voice library earned it the role. The partnership also benefited Spotify by freeing up employees and resources to focus on the enormous task of acquiring, rebranding, and scaling its new Greenroom social audio platform.
“As voice assistants gain popularity and companies look to develop their own custom voices to audibly personify their brands in the era of voice-enabled technology, Spotify is leading the charge in creating a seamless, multimodal experience for users,” ReadSpeaker CMO Roy Lindemann said. “As leaders in our respective industry areas, this partnership is particularly exciting—we challenge each other around the voice field, and each come up with ideas and strive to drive the boundaries of innovation even further.”
ReadSpeaker has no official connection to what Spotify might do next with the Car Thing or other voice AI. However, this relationship does set ReadSpeaker in a good position to help with Spotify’s future plans. For instance, implementing the recently patented and immediately controversial AI that can suggest songs based on emotions detected in a speaker’s voice. ReadSpeaker has scored some notable collaborations beyond Spotify as well over the last year. In December, SoundHound picked ReadSpeaker to upgrade the Houndify voice AI with more lifelike, distinct voices. Houndify developers, therefore, have more control in customizing a voice assistant that companies can introduce as their ‘sonic brand.’On a literally higher level, Lockheed Martin chose ReadSpeaker to produce the aforementioned synthetic voice to help train fighter jet pilots in jet training modules before they are certified.