# Technology and Innovation

Voice assistants

Smart in-car voice assistants

In-car voice assistants are here to stay

Voice assistants facts
  • Voice assistants increase safety
  • One voice command can replace several manual actions
  • Smart voice assistants keep learning
  • Continental’s voice assistant uses a hybrid solution and keeps data safe

Picture this: you’re driving 100 km per hour, focused on the road. Your smartphone dings with a notification and you glance at it, just for a second. Even without touching your device, that single glance means you had your eyes off the road for a solid 28 meters. Hardly an unrealistic scenario – and your phone isn’t the only thing that can take your eyes off the road. In Germany alone, studies have shown that almost 75% of motorists are distracted when using simple in-car features such as the navigation system, turning on the heater, plugging in an auxiliary cable, or even connecting Bluetooth from their smartphone to listen to an audiobook.

The solution? A reliable in-car voice assistant (VA) helps drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes where they belong – on the road.

Voice-activated digital assistants make vehicles safer, their extras more efficient, and they create a more comfortable driving experience. Let’s dig deeper for what you can expect:

Fact: voice assistants increase safety

As the car of the future – and today – becomes more intelligent and provides more functionalities, new solutions are required to make a driver's interaction with their vehicle intuitive, comfortable and most importantly, safe. Reliable voice recognition is crucial to maintaining safety in vehicles. Relying on a smart voice assistant means fewer buttons, switches and touch-screen pads, so ultimately fewer distractions.

Fact: one voice command can replace several manual actions

A new learning voice assistant developed by Continental relies on the most natural means of communication – the spoken word. You can communicate with the system like you would with a real person, meaning you can use your voice conversationally to replace manual actions. Imagine it a bit like talking to a passenger. 

You might tell a friend traveling with you in your car where you are going and that you would love to grab some sushi once you get there. They could then enter the destination into your car’s navigation and use their phone to search for Japanese restaurants in the neighborhood. You can speak to our new VA in exactly the same way. The system will recognize your informal statement as an order to calculate the route and also search for Japanese restaurants close to your destination. If you say, “I’m cold”, the assistant will activate the heating – eliminating the need to fiddle with the controls.

Fact: smart voice assistants keep learning

Thanks to AI, the newest generation of voice assistant is able to learn, think, understand a variety of accents and even more than one command at a time. This means, the more time you spend with your car’s voice assistant, every interaction and command will allow it to improve its system. For example, the next time you say, “I’m hungry”, the system will automatically search for Japanese restaurants based on recent or frequent request. If you fancy something different, simply say something like, “No, I feel like Italian today”, to conduct a new search. Responses like “sorry, I didn’t quite catch that” or “this is beyond my capabilities” will be a thing of the past! 

The data is used only to optimize the driver’s personal profile and make communication even more seamless and intuitive. That is a crucial difference between this and other voice-activated digital assistants.

- Achim Seibert, Continental’s head of HMI & Speech department

Fact: Continental's voice assistant uses a hybrid solution and keeps data safe

If data security is your main concern, the technology ensures that your data remains with the car manufacturer or Continental – a crucial difference that sets it apart from other voice-activated digital assistants. However, if you’re already using other smart assistants and connectivity is a higher priority for you, Continental’s new VA can be coordinated with Alexa, Siri and Google assistant, creating a seamless transition between your work or home life and your car.

What's next for in-car voice assistants?

Voice assistants like Siri, Google assistant, Amazon Echo and Alexa are revolutionizing the way we perform daily tasks. Now, a new generation of voice assistants is set to revolutionize the way we interact with our cars. Maybe soon you’ll be placing your grocery order on your way to the store, setting a comfortable temperature on the way home or booking an appointment for a tire change with a simple, “Hey Alexa,” or maybe a, “Hey Conti!”

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