In-car voice assistants
Apr 19, 2022
5 MIN READ

What’s on the Horizon for In-Car Voice Experiences?

The most highly-rated, top-of-the-line cars used to be those with the most horsepower, best engine performance, and attractive body styles. More recently, the quality of in-car experiences—powered by advanced software systems—that create easy, pleasant, and relaxing user experiences is driving the demand for connected, voice-enabled cars. While buyers are still concerned with the outside appeal of a new car, instead of looking under the hood they are examining the options for convenient, hands-free, and frictionless in-car infotainment experiences from every seat inside the cab.

According to Voicebot.ai’s annual In-Car Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report, the total in-car user base reached 124.8 million in 2022—38% larger than the user base for smart speakers. Drivers and passengers’ need for efficient, accurate, and hands-free access to the internet, entertainment, in-car features, food ordering, reservations, and payments is increasingly growing. Auto manufacturers have recognized this market opportunity and are looking for ways to get to market faster with a voice assistant that helps grow their brand and vehicle purchases.

When differentiation is the key to attracting more drivers to your brand, implementing a voice assistant that’s customized for your vehicle and designed with your users’ most likely use cases in mind not only answers the demand for hands-free access today but allows your brand to extend the voice experience as technology and opportunities continue to evolve. Built on an independent conversational AI platform, auto OEMs can begin the voice-first journey by including content domains specifically designed for the in-car experience, customized in-car controls, and a variety of features and functionality that will be unique to your in-car experience—fostering brand loyalty, recognition, and affinity.

Here are 4 ways voice assistants are taking the driving experience to the next level:

  1. Restaurant ordering
  2. Proactive suggestions
  3. Smart home technology
  4. Domains

1. In-car restaurant ordering delights drivers and passengers

The future of conversational AI is expanding capabilities beyond commonly asked queries, such as checking the time or weather, playing music, setting timers, getting directions, and rolling up and down the windows. Instead, drivers and passengers will find delight and engagement when interactive experiences help them satisfy their needs. 

Auto manufacturers with voice assistants built on independent conversational AI platforms will have more opportunities for monetization through partnerships with other businesses, such as restaurants that would allow their users to order food while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

Drivers and passengers will find delight and engagement when interactive experiences help them satisfy their needs.

A fast and accurate voice assistant will give drivers the freedom to get restaurant and menu information without the need to access their mobile phones or stop the car to place an order. With conversational AI, drivers and passengers can ask for what they want, even if they don’t know what it is called or where it is on the menu. 

Advanced conversational assistants that can understand complex and compound queries and context will create interactions that are less distracting. Conversely, poor voice interfaces may cause the driver to look at the screen to determine where their speech-to-text has gone wrong—creating unnecessary distractions and frustration when they have to repeat themselves to be understood. 

Here are some examples of queries: 

  • “Find me a pizza place with more than 4 stars, that is open past 8, and has gluten-free crust.” 
  • “I would like french fries, a cheeseburger with onions but no pickles, and a strawberry milkshake. Wait, add tomatoes.” 
  • “Deliver yellow curry with chicken and medium spice and a side of rice to my house at 6:30 pm.” 

Auto manufacturers that broaden their voice assistant’s abilities beyond entertainment, information, and car functionality will be rewarded with brand loyalty and affinity. OEMs have the chance to surprise and delight users with a superior experience through new partnerships and use cases. 

2. Proactive voice suggestions foster brand affinity

Humans love routines, and most users get in the habit of asking their voice assistant the same types of questions and commands without realizing the real value they can provide beyond setting a timer. Improving user engagement and widening use cases accessed by your customers requires a strategic and well-executed onboarding and education program. 

In the future, voice assistants will learn user preferences and be able to suggest next steps, additional services, and even buying opportunities. As early adopters of conversational AI technology, auto manufacturers are well-positioned to be at the forefront of a new era of voice experiences where proactive suggestions are based on opted-in search history and preferences.

Drivers are often focused on staying safe, getting to their destination, or enjoying their in-car entertainment. By providing helpful and relevant suggestions, they would discover the true worth of an in-car voice assistant, gain trust, and expand their use cases, naturally. Brand affinity is achieved when customers get so used to having a voice assistant that they can’t imagine life without one and seek the same experience the next time they need to buy a car.

Brand affinity is achieved when customers get so used to having a voice assistant that they can’t imagine life without one and seek the same experience the next time they need to buy a car.

What types of suggestions could be given to drivers in the future? Auto manufacturers could partner with a variety of companies to offer food delivery services, reserved parking, or gas or charging stations—use cases that occur naturally during the driving journey. 

If a driver is heading home from work, the voice assistant could ask if they would like food delivered, or if they are driving to a location where parking is required, it could suggest reserving a spot at a garage. One of the worst feelings while driving is realizing you’re low on fuel and have no idea where a station is. A voice assistant could proactively suggest somewhere nearby when it registers low fuel, preventing panic and multi-tasking. By being given suggestions even before drivers realize they need them, auto manufacturers will deepen customer connections with their users while generating revenue and proving ROI. 

3. Give users control of smart home technology from behind the wheel

Another way to further extend the in-car experience is by reaching into the home. Smart home technology can be connected to in-car voice assistants so users can control and adjust everything from their thermostat, blinds, lights, oven, and more while they are on the go.

Smart home technology can be connected to in-car voice assistants so users can control and adjust everything from their thermostat, blinds, lights, oven, and more while they are on the go.

Drivers can preheat their oven when coming back from the store, turn on the air conditioner or heater on their way home from work, open the garage door as they pull onto their street, or turn off lights that were accidentally left on. By connecting the home to the car, drivers and passengers will have more peace of mind and be able to relax more on their drive, knowing that they can control parts of their home with just their voice. 

4. Meet your audiences’ needs with the right domains 

Domains, whether public, private, or custom, provide answers to users’ queries. Without domains, users wouldn’t be able to ask questions about the stock market, flight statuses, the weather, local restaurants, control smart home technology, and more. Access to a wide library of expertly designed content domains is essential to delivering a robust voice experience. Auto manufacturers looking to provide superior user experiences need access to a variety of content domains as well as the ability to create their own custom domains that will extend the functionality of their vehicle’s operations.

Auto manufacturers looking to provide superior user experiences need access to a variety of content domains as well as the ability to create their own custom domains that will extend the functionality of their vehicle’s operations.

If a public or private domain doesn’t have the information needed, then a content domain partner that is a subject matter expert can provide accurate answers for any use case auto manufacturers like to design for their drivers and passengers. Since domains are such an integral part of the voice experience, it’s vital to consider them when debating how to achieve your voice-first goal.

It’s also essential to have a seamless experience between domains for in-car control, such as for the windows, seat heaters, temperature, and sunroof, that require Edge technology and those domains that access information on the cloud, such as music, navigation, or other queries. Both elements make for a superior in-car experience and should work in tandem to surpass the users’ needs. 

Voice assistants are taking driving experiences to the next level with in-car restaurant ordering, proactive suggestions, control of smart home technology, and partnering with the right domains. Just as engine power was once the hallmark of the best car, then safety features, the capabilities of the in-car voice assistant are driving the attention of car shoppers. 

At SoundHound, we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore SoundHound’s independent voice AI platform at SoundHound.com and register for a free account here. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

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