• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • share

Evolution of Virtual Personal Assistants in Automotive

Author: , Date:

A smartphone personal assistant might not necessarily understand the context of the situation confronting the driver of the car. Users would need an automotive assistant that has a deep understanding of the vehicle, an ability to meet the driving needs and customizations needed to get the job done – all while ensuring the safety of the passengers inside.​​

The digital life of the consumer now extends across all the domains of their daily activities: in the home, during their commute, at work, play and rest. Consumers are constantly switching between their digital life and the real world to play, work, collaborate, creating and share - and they are doing this at an increasingly rapid pace.     

This increasing appetite for high-frequency interaction with the digital world is no longer satisfied merely by downloadable applications and web pages. Neither is it satisfied by making consumers responsible for initiating every request with services. Speech as an interface means that users can request the services they need directly - without having to think too hard about which application to open and navigate from the scores of icons on their phone. Instead, natural language promises to provide a direct path from need to fulfillment.  


The Rise of the VPA


Today, Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA) are widespread, increasingly well accepted, and available on a variety of platforms, including Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and Cortana. While services offered, such as music, home control and search, are becoming commonplace, it is still possible to find VPA platforms performing differentiating services as they play to their particular strengths. For example, Bixby has a strength in providing local access to embedded services on mobile devices as well as the control of remote IoT devices.  Google Assistant is strong in Audio and Search. It is likely that while some VPA providers will continue to thrive in the general market for voice services, there still exists a need for specialized VPAs where deep knowledge and experience of the domain is a differentiator and where standard offerings are not enough. 


VPAs can control smart appliances such as thermostats, air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines. As such, they will become an active and integral part of the connected ecosystem. The vehicle can be considered as a multi-CPU IoT connected device with a complex interface. One of the key differences between the digital assistant in the vehicle and the home is that, in the vehicle, the driver and other users are controlling and responding to the device that surrounds them. 


VPAs in the Automotive Environment


With the emergence of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), automakers are adding technology to their vehicles to deliver on their vision and promise of a connected, safer and more secure driving experience. Modern vehicles are equipped with voice assistants to help drivers with vehicle-centric tasks and to respond to events in the car, from the cloud and from the outside environment. Consumers will soon expect access to their preferred home and mobile assistants while in their vehicles. Automakers need to meet such evolving expectations of their customers, while still maintaining control over their brand, user experience and quality of products and services. Speech and the Digital Assistant are a key part of this.


The automotive assistant is principally for the users of the vehicle while traveling but highly relevant in the home or office, before and after travel. The vehicle needs to have enough processing to support the user in difficult driving conditions. This is a highly specialized environment in which the digital assistant has to work with ADAS to support the driver. A smartphone assistant might not necessarily understand the context of the situation confronting the driver of the car. What users would need is an automotive assistant that has a deep understanding of the vehicle, an ability to meet the driving needs and customizations needed to get the job done – all while ensuring the safety of the passengers inside. 


As the previous example illustrated, many of the scenarios for the personal assistant involve pre-emptive or predictive actions and interactions. This means the assistant must be capable of initiating dialogues and managing resulting actions on the multi-modal user interface.  


The automotive assistant should be able to answer any question regarding the vehicle, provide help in seeking support during emergencies or troubleshoot and schedule service whenever needed. It also should be able to do tasks such as the following for the driver/passenger of the vehicle:


  • Direct the user to the right gas station;
  • Assist the user by reducing electric vehicle range anxiety through an appreciation of historical driving data and current road conditions;
  • Help the user by providing information on open and economical parking spots;
  • Be cognizant of the user’s business schedules, business needs and thus suggest right hotels, restaurants so that he/she can attend his/her meeting on time;
  • And more.


To better understand the current developments around Voice Personal Assistants, Artificial Intelligence making the Virtual Personal Assistants smarter and safer and evolving customer expectations around context-sensitive infotainment experience, attend our upcoming webinar titled ‘Evolution of Virtual Personal Assistants in Automotive.'  Our speakers Tim VanGoethem, Vice President, Advanced Mobility Solutions, HARMAN and Kevin Hague, Vice President, Technology Strategy, HARMAN will discuss evolving user experience needs in the automotive industry, recent developments and predictions around VPAs and how to equip them to deliver a seamless infotainment experience in Automotive. 


During this session you will have the opportunity to ask questions about:


  • The rise of VPAs and how Artificial Intelligence (AI) forms the basis of a VPA
  • Multiple modalities of accessing the virtual assistant using a unified interface/solution
  • How a VPA for automotive must be different from VPA for home or office
  • Specific features a VPA should possess to deliver a seamless experience in the Automotive Environment


Click here to register for the webinar today. Also, let us know your opinion on the future outlook for automotive infotainment and the role VPA would play in it. Please write to us here. We would love to hear from you!