Apple has Acquired Vocal IQ, a Company with Amazing Focus on a Digital Assistant for the Autonomous Car & Beyond
As our cars, mobile devices and wearables become more powerful and feature-rich, our current interaction paradigms are becoming a hindrance - and in some cases, even dangerous. That's what Vocal IQ states on one of their company webpages page. This is the company that Apple has just acquired. They're a UK-based start-up whose artificial-intelligence software helps computers and people speak to each other in a more natural dialogue. In of the company's blogs, Vocal IQ states that existing digital assistants have fallen "well short of consumer expectations," singling out Siri as a mere "toy."
The Financial Times reports that "Vocal IQ uses machine learning to build virtual assistants that try to recreate the type of talking computers that appear in science-fiction films such as Samantha in Her or Jarvis in Iron Man."
Its technology could help Apple to improve Siri, its virtual assistant, as well as further the iPhone maker's automotive ambitions. While Vocaliq's speech processing and machine learning technology could be incorporated into devices from wearables to the connected home, the company was particularly focused on in-car applications. This included collaboration with General Motors."
In respect to the automotive industry, Vocal IQ states that "Intelligent, connected and autonomous cars are on their way. Their potential for revolutionising the automotive industries is huge - and smart, adaptive voice dialogue technology is at the centre of that movement."
Auto-Pilot Driver Assistance
Using a combination of ultrasonic and radar sensors along with cameras that monitor a vehicle's surroundings, cruise control systems are evolving towards auto-pilot systems that allow drivers to let their cars steer, brake and accelerate by themselves. In addition to that, they're also able to safely alert drivers to the possible need for manual intervention.
To build consumer confidence, mass-adoption and reduce driver anxiety towards such systems, auto-pilot assistance needs to be positioned as a "co-pilot" where drivers can hand over responsibility for certain tasks to the car with complete confidence that the message has been correctly understood. Currently, handling requests purely using automated speech recognition (ASR) is close to impossible due to language ambiguities - with the likely possibility of ASR failing on certain keywords.
The Vocal IQ platform
Vocal IQ's proprietary platform solves the language ambiguity problem and improves task completion rates dramatically. Their technology also uses deep learning to understand the context in which words are spoken.
Vocal IQ's platform is able to powerfully exploit all of the information from its speech recognizer. This is a game-changer for environments with high noise. With independent tests showing a 32% improvement in task completion in-car compared with being bolted onto an ASR.
Entertainment, safety and information
In-car apps like music, booking and messaging applications all have very different usage patterns that require disparate menu structures. Current solutions that try to "audify" these menu structures and rely on ASR for task completion have rated poorly in driver studies. Existing patterns of menu systems taken from the consumer computing world simply do not work.
As the Vocal IQ system learns from constant usage, it doesn't force drivers into artificial, unnatural speech patterns. It listens, learns and adapts - and it gets smarter all the time.
Other Areas of Vocal IQ Expertise
Vocal IQ's team is expected to stay in Cambridge rather than moving to the US group's headquarters in Cupertino, California.
Side Note: The Company's website has many web pages where it's clear that their name is Vocal IQ with a product that they call vocaliq. I chose to go with what the company uses on their webpage dedicated to their Automotive marketing along with every segment noted above in our collage which is Vocal IQ.