Car experts predict that in future cars may know how we feel — sometimes without us having to say a word.
Nearly 90 percent of all new cars are expected to offer voice recognition capability by 2022. The next step for the cars of tomorrow could be to pick up on tiny changes in our facial expression as well as modulations and inflections in our speaking voice, easing the driving experience for consumers.
Advanced systems — equipped with sophisticated microphones and in-car cameras — could learn which songs we like to hear when we are stressed and those occasions we prefer to simply enjoy silence. Interior lighting could also complement our mood.
“We’re well on the road to developing the empathetic car which might tell you a joke to cheer you up, offer advice when you need it, remind you of birthdays and keep you alert on a long drive,” said Fatima Vital, senior director, marketing automotive, Nuance Communications, which helped Ford develop voice recognition for the SYNC in-car connectivity system.
Cloud-based voice control is anticipated to be available on 75 percent of new cars by 2022, and it is predicted future systems would evolve into personal assistants that shuffle appointments and order takeaways when drivers are held up in traffic jams.
A research project Ford is currently running with RWTH Aachen University includes using multiple microphones to improve speech processing and reduce the effect of external noise and potential disruptions.
Future gesture and eye control would enable drivers to answer calls by nodding their head, adjust the volume with short twisting motions, and set the navigation with a quick glance at their destination on a map.
“Lots of people already love their cars, but with new in-car systems that learn and adapt, we can expect some seriously strong relationships to form,” said Dominic Watt, senior lecturer, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York. “The car will soon be our assistant, travel companion and sympathetic ear, and you’ll be able to discuss everything and ask anything, to the point many of us might forget we’re even talking to a machine.”
SYNC 3 already offers unique features for the Middle East and North Africa, like user ability to control media and climate, via their Bluetooth-connected phone, just by speaking to SYNC. Language choices for SYNC 3 navigation include Arabic for the very first time.