It seems BMW is getting serious about its in-car technology. The automaker has announced its partnership with Samsung and Panasonic in an effort to develop what the group calls an “intelligent assistant” for BMW vehicles. The three companies have secured the help of Nuance, a speech recognition company that is currently developing software that more easily recognizes national and regional dialects spoken in natural speech.

The goal is to develop software that can detect the difference between words spoken within commands and random words spoken within the car’s interior, along with adapting and learning more distinct regional idiosyncrasy on the go – both of which can be understood when spoken in a natural tone.

In an example given to Forbs, the driver of a BMW could ask for “A Tale of Two Cities.” The computer must know the driver is referring to the novel by Charles Dickens rather than a mispronunciation of the “twin cities” of Minneapolis-Saint Paul. The software must be able to understand conversational language, semantics, and the conversational context.

That’s where Nuance really comes into play. The company has been devoted to creating such software for applications in all sorts of devices – devices called Internet of Things robots, or IoT devices. These everyday items, a refrigerator, for example, that would be able to communicate with your smart phone and vice versa, would create a world of voice-controlled objects that respond to natural speech. In order to get there, customized speech maps specific to each application need to be created, allowing each app or device to understand the context of natural speech and be able to decipher what the speaker is wanting or commanding.

What’s more, the speech maps will be continually updated and improved the larger its user base becomes. Speech data would be anonymized and sent back to developers who could continually refine the software.

What’s that mean for BMW drivers? A much more personal (and less stressful) experience when communicating with the vehicle. The days of spouting 10 choppy voice commands to simply get GPS directions are numbered.

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Why it matters

Voice recognition software is still in its infancy, especially in vehicles. Natural voice commands tend to confuse infotainment systems, prompting an annoying playback of “Please say…. in order to….”

Furthermore, having a connected vehicle into the Internet of Things would allow for a congruent meshing of devices like smart phones, home devices, and the cloud. Imagine driving home from work when your refrigerator tells your BMW to remind you to pick up milk. That’s the goal, and I think it’s an amazing one.

In the mean time, “Computer, I’ll have tea; Earl Grey, hot.”

Source: Forbes

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