We’ve heard all the acronyms, VPA, IOT. Harman is combining all the acronyms into the automobile. How does this apply to Voice in Automotive?
Kevin Hague, Vice President, Technology Strategy HARMAN Connected Services and Tim VanGoethem, Vice President of Advanced Mobility Solutions HARMAN, a Samsung Company, talked to a group of journalists about the future of Virtual Personal Assistants in cars.
What is the VPA market?
Virtual Personal Assistant Market (VPA) is a high growth market that Harman has been working on for years. It includes Amazon Echo, Google Home products reaching about 50 million units globally. Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby, Baidu Duer, Alibaba Group are the top Ecosystem players globally. Automotive providers have to figure out which players to work within the car. The biggest challenge is which companies to work with globally or if you can work with one group globally. VPAs are about creating the new, primary interface for consumer electronic devices in the car and on the go.
Some of the partners that Harman uses in cars are talked about with Dr. Mike Peters, President of the Connected Car Division, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018
Harman sees a lot of growth in the wearables and connecting to the endpoints. What happens if you are out of range with your 4G connectivity? The virtual assistants are mute, so Harman will need to add a layer of devices in cars.
At our home, we have some of the newest, best VPAs, and it can be something as simple as the cord that connects the piece that goes bad. Sourcing the problems quickly are one of the most critical challenges to staying seamless.
Voice Control is still Missing the Mark
The biggest challenge with the built-in voice recognition doesn’t recognize or misinterprets commands. Deploying hybrid solutions is one of the solutions for Harman.
It is essential to get it right because the demand and growth is growing exponentially. Some of the solutions to the acoustic issues could be dampening the noise that goes into the microphone, embeds speech technologies, using a mobile device.
How does Harman make this intuitive?
This is something Harman is working on and talking to the auto manufacturers. Seamless is the key to Harman while the automotive specifications are changing, including a rental car, or a shared car.
Consumers have already been trained to use a “wake” word, so what if the user’s car has multiple systems, they can access the vehicle might be able to steer the predicate phrase to use the best system. That is technology that Harman is working on in their company.
Should car manufacturers make the decision?
Should the consumer decide by bringing their own system into the car?
In the small voting pool taken on the webinar, it was overwhelming yes to consumers. Does this include telling the car to turn down the temperature? What about using a virtual assistant for the car manual instead of having it in the glove box?
If the car is electric can you have your virtual assistant check the battery level against topography and car congestion?
It will be integrated into the head unit and can be updated either through the car manufacturer or through Harman’s system.
These are some of the challenges and technologies Harman is working on to seamlessly add to the car to make the consumer car can hear what the person is asking for and have the VPA hear it correctly and answer it correctly.
Harman is building an agnostic platform for any car company to use. Blending the technology from all partners is the key to the agnostic platform. Having multi-modal ability, other than just voice, is also important to Harman. Harman doesn’t see value in building the ASR themselves, so it will be leveraged from other companies.
The biggest question would be what happens in the future with autonomous cars? Will there be interaction with the car when the vehicle is in autonomous mode? Harman’s Lifestyle Audio President Michael Mauser on seamless connectivity to the consumer at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2019 and the agnostic platform:
Until autonomous cars are in practice, many of the questions will remain a mystery to be pondered.