MyFord Touch Feature Spotlight: Voice Controls

Everyone is scrambling to get voice controls squared away… They have been for many years and will be for years to come.

At CES 2010 this year Ford announced an upgrade to their voice control system powered by Nuance Communications.  The updates will be launched with the MyFord Touch system in 2010.  The refined voice engine from Nuance is a further move towards natural language voice commands and increases the number of first-level commands recognized by the system to 10,000 words (up from 100).

The system should reduce the complexity of performing certain functions and in particular significantly increases the number of actions that can be initiated with a single command (i.e. first-level commands).  Users should be able to access certain features with their initial command rather than having to navigate a menu system (i.e first-level commands).

The system extends to the SIRIUS satellite radio and Travel Link features as well.  According to Ford, now, requests like ‘I want to know what gas costs’ or ‘Get me NFL scores will return answers instead of confusion.  If the system doesn’t know exactly what to do, it will make a suggestion based on certain keywords and teach the user how to access the feature they are looking for.

These changes have one purpose…to make the system safer to use.  With all this complexity it is important to shorten the learning curve and simplify the controls to allow users to focus on the act of not running 2,000 lbs of steel into other people driving.

Allowing the user to describe their destination as they would over the phone is surely an improvement.  I look forward to trying this system out to get a better understanding of how well it works.  The last time I had the opportunity to work with a cutting edge voice control system the technology was not ready for prime time…maybe now it is (but I’ll withhold judgment for now).

via [Ford Press Release]

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