Awkward spoken commands are quickly going by the wayside as new voice-to-text algorithms take hold, and OnStar is the latest system to benefit from natural language technology.
GM's telematics unit tapped Nuance Communications to provide its latest voice recognition software, allowing OnStar users to simply say, "I need to make a phone call" rather than using simplistic "dial" or "call" commands. The system also recognizes requests for weather and traffic by listening for key words in sentences, such as "What's traffic like?" or "What's today's weather?" And Nuance's text-to-speech system not only recognizes different North American accents, but is also designed to accept commands in Spanish, French and Mandarin. Additionally, GM and Nuance are working on a new voice-commanded directions system dubbed uNav which should be arriving later this year. Until then, the new natural language commands are available on all 2011 OnStar-equipped GM products. Check out the video for a brief demo and get more details in the press release below.
OnStar Partners with Nuance Communications to Improve User Experience
DETROIT – OnStar is the first company to offer Nuance Communications Inc.'s (NASDAQ: NUAN) latest voice recognition software, available in 2011 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.
The more flexible voice recognition system makes it easier for subscribers to navigate services and features through its ability to understand voice commands in a natural manner. Users can simply say, "I need to make a phone call," instead of going through a prompt and using more formal language like, "dial" or "call."
Natural voice technology also allows subscribers to connect with the OnStar Virtual Advisor to access personalized weather and traffic updates by saying common phrases including, "get traffic info," or "what's the weather today?" Through text-to-speech technology, subscribers will instantly receive their requested update from an OnStar Virtual Advisor.
"Understanding and responding to our subscribers' needs through natural voice recognition is one of the ways we keep drivers safely connected to the people and information that matters most to them," said Scott Kubicki, executive director, OnStar Sales, Services and Marketing.
OnStar and Nuance also have made significant improvements that enable the system to better understand the many regional dialects across OnStar's subscriber base. Now a subscriber in southern Louisiana will be just as easily understood as a subscriber in New York or Minnesota. To achieve this, OnStar engineers perform extensive validation tests across English, French, Spanish and Mandarin languages and dialects using various vehicle models in a wide range of driving and noise conditions to achieve flexible speech recognition.
"Enhancing its voice capabilities demonstrates OnStar's long-standing commitment to mobility, innovation and safety for its diverse subscriber population," said Michael Thompson, senior vice president and general manager, Nuance Mobile. "When you couple OnStar's proven experience in safety and connectivity with Nuance's automotive voice innovation, you have achieved a platform that allows for a smarter, simpler driving experience."
OnStar and Nuance are also collaborating to develop uNav, a new self-service feature that allows subscribers to quickly receive directions to a destination using an automated voice system after pressing the blue OnStar button.
For 2011 model Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles, OnStar Virtual Advisor service is standard on all OnStar equipped vehicles. To learn more about OnStar subscription options, visit www.onstar.com.