The third generation of voice interaction in cars is going to give us a unifying experience with the other voice interaction services we’re becoming comfortable with using. Namely, Alexa, G00gle, and Apple are all fully entrenched and are pushing out third party players or even manufacture-built solutions.
The first generation of interaction in the car was primarily around handsfree infotainment and control and worked relatively poorly or required quite a bit of tuning. This included Nuance-backed systems for making phone calls, changing stations or changing music input source. However, interaction with these systems is fairly clunky and either require learning rote commands or training the system.
The second generation involves extending Android and Apple capabilities through Bluetooth microphones, with Gen “2.5” being Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The issue with these services is that they don’t include the beam forming microphones or acoustic setup for speech recognition. Doing audio conditioning for voice conversations vs. speech recognition is different. Where Bluetooth mics might reduce road noise, they may reduce artifacts of speech that are required by cloud based speech recognition services to do ASR, resulting in worse performance. Slapping on voice interaction through these systems usually leads to annoyance.
The third generation of devices is starting to emerge and can do proper far field beam forming / acoustic conditioning that works with ASR. These devices also allow for a unique experience through voice that will be non-distracting. They may still tie into the phone but will provide technology that will enhance the voice interaction. Examples of these include Dashbot — a new Kickstarter project and some of the AVS integrations coming from Hyundai, BMW, and Ford. Maybe we’ll see a Google Assistant integration with cars in the coming months?
In the very near future, the fourth generation of voice interaction in cars will be for controlling the car itself. Our cars will be like taxi drivers and we’ll be instructing them where to go or to crank up the AC.