Auto in-cabin experience

The Evolution of Our In-Car Experience

By | Digital Assistants, User Interface, Voice | No Comments

As the usage model for cars continues to shift away from traditional ownership and leasing to on-demand, ridesharing, and in the future, autonomous vehicle (AV) scenarios, how we think about our personal, in-car experience will need to shift as well.

Unimaginable just a few short years ago, today, we think nothing of jumping into our car and streaming our favorite music through the built-in audio system using our Spotify or Pandora subscription. We also expect the factory-installed navigation system to instantly pull up our favorite or most-commonly used locations (after we’ve entered them) and present us with the best route to or from our current one. And once we pair our smartphone with the media system, we can have our text and email messages not only appear on the onboard screen but also read to us using built-in text-to-speech capabilities.  It’s a highly personalized experience in our car.

When we use a pay-as-you-go service, such as Zipcar, we know we’re unlikely to have access to all of the tech comforts of our own vehicle, but we can usually find a way to get our smartphone paired for handsfree calling and streaming music using Bluetooth. If not, we end up using the navigation app on our phone and awkwardly holding it while driving, trying to multitask. It’s not pretty. And when we hail a rideshare, we don’t expect to have access to any of the creature comforts of our own car.

But what if we could?

Just as our relationship to media shifted from an ownership model–CDs or MP3 files on iPods–to subscription-based experiences that are untethered to a specific device but can be accessed anywhere at any time, it’s time to shift our thinking about in-car experiences in the same way.

It’s analogous to accessing your Amazon account and continuing to watch the new season of “True Detective” on the TV at your Airbnb–at the exact episode where you left off last week. Or listening to your favorite Spotify channel at your friend’s house through her speakers.

All your familiar apps (not just the limited Android Auto or Apple CarPlay versions) and your personalized in-car experience–music, navigation, messaging, even video (if you’re a passenger, of course)–will be transportable to any vehicle you happen to jump into, whether it’s a Zipcar, rental car or some version of a rideshare that’s yet to be developed. What’s more, you’ll be able to easily and safely access these apps using voice commands. Whereas today our personal driving environment is tied to our own vehicle, it will become something that’s portable, evolving as our relationship to cars changes over time.

Just on the horizon of this evolution in our relationship with automobiles? Autonomous vehicles, or AVs, in which we become strictly a passenger, perhaps one of several people sharing a ride. Automobile manufacturers today are thinking deeply about what this changing relationship means to them and to their brands. Will BMW become “The Ultimate Riding Machine?”(As a car guy, I personally hope not!)  And if so, what will be the differentiators?

Many car companies see the automobile as a new digital platform, for which each manufacturer creates its own, branded, in-car digital experience. In time, when we hail a rideshare or an autonomous vehicle, we could request a Mercedes because we know that we love the Mercedes in-car digital experience, as well as the leather seats and the smooth ride.

What happens if we share the ride in the AV, because, well, they are rideshare applications after all? The challenge for the car companies becomes creating a common denominator of services that define that branded experience while still enabling a high degree of personalization. Clearly, automobile manufacturers don’t want to become dumb pipes on wheels, but if we all just plug in our headphones and live on our phones, comfy seats alone aren’t going to drive brand loyalty for Mercedes. On the other hand, we don’t all want to listen to that one guy’s death metal playlist all the way to the city.  

The car manufacturers cannot create direct integrations to all services to accommodate infinite personalization. In the music app market alone there are at least 15 widely used apps, but what if you’re visiting from China? Does your rideshare support China’s favorite music app, QQ?  We’ve already made our choices in the apps we have on our phones, so transporting that personalized experience into the shared in-car experience is the elegant way to solve that piece of the puzzle.

This vision of the car providing a unique digital experience is not that far-fetched, nor is it that far away from becoming reality. It’s not only going to change our personal ridesharing experience, but it’s also going to be a change-agent for differentiation in the automobile industry.

And it’s going to be very interesting to watch.

Q Actions - Call

Q Actions 1.3 update is now available on Google Play!

By | Digital Assistants, User Interface, Voice Search | No Comments

Q Actions now enables you to make calls directly using voice commands, regardless of if your contact is in your phonebook or a third-party app like WhatsApp.

Remembering friends and family across multiple phone books and communication apps is cumbersome. Through voice, you can privately tell Q Actions which contact you want to connect with and what app you want to place the call with, safely and hands free.

Juggling multiple phone books across your apps can be tedious … We got your back!

Also, try out some of the new and improved actions from familiar apps that you already have on your phone: Netflix, Spotify, Waze, Maps, Facebook, and more.

Just launch Q Actions and say:

    • “dial John”, “call Jason on WhatsApp” Phone/WhatsApp
    • “Play Stranger Things”, “watch Netflix originals” Netflix
    • “play songs by Drake”, “play mint playlist”Spotify
    • “take me to work”, “I want to drive home” Waze
    • “are any of my friends nearby?”, “view upcoming events” Facebook

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As always, we welcome your feedback.

 

 

The Next Billion

By | User Interface, Voice | No Comments

When we started Aiqudo less than a year ago, we were focused on voice as the next big thing in tech, a UI that has the potential to be the most profound and disruptive change in consumer technology to date. Being a Silicon Valley company, we naturally focused on how voice could impact our world — savvy tech users who wanted the easiest, fastest way possible to use their technology, and the changes natural language voice could bring about for businesses serving us: voice search, voice commerce, hands free apps while driving, etc.

But as we work with partners who are focused on global deployments across multiple languages, we’re coming to realize that voice could have a much more far-reaching impact. When interacting with technology becomes completely seamless and intuitive, we will extend access to technology to billions of new users in emerging markets where mobile internet devices have arrived but where language or literacy issues may present barriers to usage.

Today, mobile carriers are pushing hard to capture new users in these frontier markets, offering inexpensive Android phones with unlimited data plans and putting internet connections into more hands than ever. Voice interfaces, localized for languages and for locale-specific apps, will unlock the final accessibility challenge for these users, allowing the benefits of the internet to reach far deeper into many societies that have until now been on the other side of the digital divide. Voice has the potential to become the universal interface to the digital world.

New users and a new user interface will certainly mean new entry points and new modalities of use for a broad range of established businesses. Industries that VCs would consider over with, done, un-investable in developed markets will be up for grabs again, and serving billions of users. We’ll see new business models, serving localized needs with localized solutions — this won’t be a walkover for the established incumbents. The next disruption is likely to have its roots far from Silicon Valley.

These are the next billion internet users, and voice is the interface that will power their digital experience.

Voice will be our interface to everything

By | User Interface, Voice | No Comments
Let’s face it, technology has not always been very user friendly. Sometimes that felt by design, so coders could keep their club small and exclusive. But usually there’s a step function innovation that totally changes how we interact with technology and, in so doing, disrupts the old paradigm. The mouse and graphical user interface launched the PC (if you’re old enough, you remember when saying GUI sounded cool). Touch screens were the brilliant innovation that enabled the whole new world of smartphones that we live in today.

Voice is the next disruption. Voice will change how we search, how we shop and manage our experiences with retailers, how we create and consume media. The big guys are placing big bets in the space, and we’re starting to see the payoff on some of those components now – voice recognition now has accuracy above 90%, which is good enough to be workable. With improvements in AI, we’ll have contextual understanding, maintain state, and get to conversational capabilities.

But today, voice doesn’t do very much. Alexa sets a mean timer, but if I want to order an Uber, I have to go to my Alexa app to sign in and register, and then I only get limited capabilities. Why wouldn’t I just go to my Uber app? My Uber app has Home, Work, SFO, already in it, plus my payment info, and I can share my ETA with my contacts. And if I want to check Surfline, forget it – there’s no Skill for that.

This is why we created Aiqudo. Our mobile apps do tons of things for us already – get rides, order food, check the surf, and loads of other interactions every day. But the touch screen interface has resulted in each app becoming an individual silo: you have to open the app, navigate your way down to the action you want, maybe tap through a few screens to select your size or color, checkout, and confirm, and then move to the next app and repeat. Aiqudo lets you use simple, intuitive voice commands to instantly get to the action you want, then seamlessly move on to the next action in another app. Do all the things you want to do in your favorite apps, but now at the speed of voice.

Voice will be our interface to everything, eventually. We’re starting with making voice the interface to the things we do every day with our mobile apps.