November 18, 2011
IVR Comes to the Automotive World
Interactive voice response, or IVR, has been around since 1936, albeit in a limited fashion. Since the iPhone (News - Alert) 4S hit the market, IVR took a huge leap in the number of users taking advantage of the technology with SIRI. Now consumers are looking for the same usability in their cars to promote hands-free communications.
A recent CNet Review piece highlighted that beginning next year Nuance (News - Alert) Automotive will begin integrating IVR in vehicles. It will give motorists the opportunity to speak naturally to the devices designed to do more than just give them directions to their destination. Americans spend nearly 17 hours a week driving and most navigation systems require you to manually enter your destination into your GPS device.
Given the expectations of consumers today, this manual process is not likely to continue to be acceptable. Even the systems available today that use IVR technology in some vehicles requires a multi-step conversation that falls short of a smooth process.Current automobile IVR systems only offer about 60 terse voice commands that are understood by the system.
Ford uses the Sync system, which can understand up to 10,000 voice commands, making it the exception.Given the popularity of the iPhone 4S and its SIRI application, IVR users are growing accustomed to a higher level of usability and will likely be expecting the same IVR performance in other devices. This growing demand certainly raises the bar for companies in the IVR space vying for that competitive edge.
A Ford spokesperson shared with CNet that their customers are telling them they want more control over their vehicles, and that includes the “infotainment” options that use IVR. Ford currently offers MyFord Touch, which has been criticized as complex and difficult for drivers to navigate. Not surprisingly, Ford will offer an upgraded version next year.
Mercedes-Benz is also expected to jump into the competition with an IVR solution next year. The company is planning to offer an iPhone-centric platform. This IVR system will be cloud-based and offer a “revolutionary user interface with fluent transition and animations,” according to a Mercedes spokesperson.The speech recognition technology is likely to explode in natural language applications and services, according to technology pundits.
They say that IVR is a building block to a more unique user interface. Even SIRI is expected to add more functions to its application soon, which will make it evolve quickly. Some say the IVR capabilities in SIRI could soon be looking up flights for you and streaming your music.There is also an expected jump in competition in the IVR field that will give SIRI and Apple (News - Alert) a run for its money, especially where the automotive industry is concerned. As the competition intensifies, expect to see enhanced capabilities, improved quality and lower prices.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny