Ford adds new speech technology interface to European car models

Jan. 1, 2020
Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will integrate speech technologies from Nuance Communications, Inc. in new European car models. According to the company, this will provide drivers with new levels of safety and convenience when using the

Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will integrate speech technologies from Nuance Communications, Inc. in new European car models. According to the company, this will provide drivers with new levels of safety and convenience when using the car's phone, navigation and entertainment systems. Nuance speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies will be available across Europe for the Ford C-MAX and Ford Focus starting in December, followed later by the Ford Galaxy, Ford Mondeo and Ford S-MAX.

"We recognize the importance of speech technology to make telematics, navigation and infotainment solutions safer and easier to control," says Joachim Creutzburg, marketing director, Original Equipment from Blaupunkt. "Not only do we offer automotive customers the most advanced speech enabled solutions, our portable navigation solutions in the aftermarket also allow destination entry and control by voice."

Ford has won customer and industry accolades for their innovative Human Machine Interface (HMI), which helps drivers easily navigate the car's phone, cruise control and audio systems. The HMI-system in the new Ford models developed by Blaupunkt, the Bosch subsidiary, enables drivers to place calls, enter an address to a navigation system, select a desired temperature, and control the audio system — all with a simple voice command.

According to a market survey conducted by Maix Market Research among car buyers in Germany, the United States and Japan in 2006, 41 percent of the respondents stated that they frequently or occasionally place calls while driving, 20 percent said that they read incoming SMS messages and 76 percent said that they enter or change the destination in their navigation systems while driving. All of these actions are serious causes for driver distraction that can be reduced by using voice commands and text-to-speech.

The system is powered by Nuance VoCon®, the industry's leading embedded speech recognition software, and increases safety by allowing the driver to keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. In addition, Nuance's RealSpeak™ text-to-speech software is used to convert text into remarkably high-quality speech for turn-by-turn directions, including street names, within the navigation system. The HMI-system with a Nuance speech-enabled user interface is fluent in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Specific features of the HMI-system powered by Nuance speech solutions include:

  • Voice-activated destination entry: Drivers can simply say their destination address instead of having to type it on a keypad. The voice interface reads out all information including street names and traffic information.
  • Voice-activated, hands-free calling: Drivers can simply press the "Push to Talk" button on the steering wheel, and then say the number or the previously enrolled name of the person to call.
  • Voice-activated audio: With command and control of the audio system, drivers can select a radio station by speaking the frequency in natural numbers, e.g. "Frequency 87.5" or by saying a pre-enrolled name of the radio station. Drivers can also control the CD changer and CD/MP3-player by simply saying commands like "Play Track 5," "Play next CD" or "Shuffle on."
  • Voice-activated climate control: With command and control of the climate system, drivers can decrease or increase the temperature by speaking commands such as warmer or cooler.

"Nuance has a long history of working with Ford," says Steve Chambers, president of the Mobile and Consumer Services Division at Nuance. "Now with the advanced speech technology in the Blaupunkt navigation solution, we are able to offer Ford customers in Europe a safer alternative to the drivers' distraction created by navigation systems in cars. With the voice user interface, powered by Nuance Automotive, drivers can keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel to dial their phone, enter an address to the navigation system or control the audio system."

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