Voice Is Going on a Worldwide Road Trip

We’ve all had to handle an important incoming phone call from the confines of the driver’s seat. These situations, where hands-free interactions are necessary for ease and safety, have reinforced the role of the voice assistant in the car. In fact, nearly 130 million people in the US use in-car assistants. Automobile brands from Buick to Nissan to BMW have embedded Amazon Alexa into their cars, and others have turned to custom voice assistants to cater to driver needs in a more personalized way. Cerence, the voice AI company for cars, even released a feature to customize your wake words. With these new experiences, and with the growth of connected car commerce, voice technology will soon be able to handle more advanced tasks while users are on the road.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Road

The Honda Personal Assistant is now available for use in the Honda e, the company’s line of electric cars, in Japan and select regions of Europe. Honda’s in-car voice assistant, which was initially announced in 2018, is built by SoundHound. With the wake word “OK Honda,” drivers use voice commands to ask directions, find location-specific information, and control the car’s features. Although voice tech integrated into cars is becoming more common, the rising adoption of white-label assistant technology shows car companies’ vision of the future with smart cars becoming an extension of the smart home. More on Auto Connected Car News

Talk, But Don’t Touch

Planet Word, the first voice-activated museum, opened its doors in Washington, D.C. last week. Celebrating the power of language and its impact on shaping discourse, the attraction features ten immersive learning experiences, including a 22-foot interactive word wall that educates visitors about the history of the English language through conversation and an exhibit that draws words with ‘smart’ paint brushes. With headset-guided tours, museums have been staunch users of audio formats for a while. But as people search for more novel in-person experiences, and as museums of all kinds compete for foot traffic, emerging tech like voice is one way to capture the attention of visitors. More on Voicebot.ai

AirPods for All

Apple is developing two new AirPods models, including an upgraded version of the original model and a second version of the AirPods Pro. The new AirPods Pro model is planned to emulate stemless round earbuds such as Galaxy Buds, Echo Buds, and Pixel Buds. With the hearables market approaching $93.9 billion by 2026, tech companies are scrambling to make even more advanced earbuds, especially with the arrival of tech-enhanced hearables experiences—Foursquare’s new voice assistant whispers location-specific location into your ears, and Whole Foods piloted a wayfinding grocery store experience. Between earbuds, the car, and our living space smart speakers, it won’t be long until voice assistants are with us everywhere we go. More on Bloomberg

Stats Don’t Lie

86% of people say that voice technology could make visiting businesses or attending events more sanitary. (data via Adobe)

83% of people agree that “The full potential of audio/voice tech has not yet been exploited.” (data via Reuters Audio Research Report)

Chart of the Week

(This Week In Voice)


The Clio Sports Awards

“Hey Google, Ask Nike”—the first voice-activated sneaker drop designed by RAIN, Nike, and R/GA in 2019—was recently awarded a Silver medal by the Clio Awards, a global award program for innovation and creativity in advertising. The drop presented basketball fans with a novel shopping experience for the new Nike Adapt BB shoe while they watched the L.A. Lakers vs. Boston Celtics NBA game on TNT. Watch the campaign recap here.