Cerence Adds KT Voice Assistant Support to Mercedes-Benz Cars in South Korea
Mercedes-Benz Korea is building the first cars running Cerence’s voice AI platform to support KT’s GiGA Genie voice assistant. Cerence’s upgraded cloud service capability enables the new vehicles to offer the Korean telecom giant’s voice AI using the Cerence Cognitive Arbitrator.
Cerence unveiled the Cognitive Arbitrator early in 2020 as a tool for automakers to provide multiple, simultaneously available voice assistants within a car. The system routes user requests to the most relevant voice assistant available based on what the driver asked. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) virtual assistant platform is powered by Cerence globally. The Korean-made cars will still use MBUX, but will layer KT’s GiGA Genie into the system as an additional AI. When the driver makes a request that GiGA Genie is best-suited to fulfill, the Cognitive Arbitrator will automatically engage the Korean voice AI over the standard MBUX system. The driver doesn’t have to choose the voice assistant that responds; the AI intuits the answer based on its understanding of the query and the capabilities of its accessible assistants.
“GiGA Genie has been a driving force in the growing popularity of voice-powered assistants in Korea,” KT head of AI mobility business Kangrim Choi said. “We are proud to partner with Cerence to bring GiGA Genie to an entirely new environment in a seamless, integrated offering that makes accessing the assistant’s content, services and capabilities easy for drivers while on the go.”
Cerence created the Cognitive Arbitrator as a way to pool the resources of platforms like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa Auto that didn’t incorporate in-car feature controls. The company envisioned drivers asking their car’s voice AI to answer a question or play a song and the response coming as smoothly from an Alexa skill as a built-in Siri feature. Though the voice AI built into vehicles is now more likely linked to big-name voice assistants, a multiple-choice platform is still going to appeal to some carmakers. It’s similar to the reasoning behind Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis) being first in line for an Alexa Custom Assistant, a branded voice AI connected to Alexa’s complete resources.
Cerence has made significant upgrades to its platform since releasing the Cognitive Arbitrator. The company rolled out Cerence Drive 2.0 and its connected Cloud Services a little over a year ago, upping its connected voice assistants’ accuracy and speed and has aggressively pushed out new features at a rapid clip in the months since. The Cerence Look tool combining online databases and gaze-tracking cameras to share insight on what a driver is looking at and related Tour Guide feature were joined in December by the proactive and multimodal Cerence Co-Pilot, which analyzes data from car sensors and human input to predict a driver’s desires, ideally skipping the need for a wake word in favor of simply getting a yes or no on suggestions made to the driver. The benefit to Cerence of widening its platform to encompass KT and GiGA Genie is easy to see.
“Consumers globally have an ever-expanding digital life that spans a variety of assistants and services. As their ecosystems become more complex, interoperability is key, especially in the car,” Cerence CEO Stefan Ortmanns explained. “By leveraging our Cerence Cognitive Arbitrator to make GiGA Genie accessible via the automotive assistant, KT has firmly established its commitment to a simple, intuitive user experience. We are excited to team up with KT and support our long-term partner, Mercedes-Benz, as they bring this important capability to drivers of select Mercedes-Benz models in Korea.”