Strategy Analytics expects the automotive voice-technology market to reach 78 million units, worth $6.5 billion, by 2013. According to a report by industry analyst Kevin Mak (“Nuance - Maintaining Leadership by Focusing on Complete Auto Solutions and Avoiding Too Much Music”), opportunities for automotive voice control will expand to encompass digital music files and a wider set of new automotive human-machine interface (HMI) applications, an example of which is Nuance’s Linguatronic voice system in Mercedes-Benz C-class vehicles.
According to Mak, hands-free communications systems are expected to penetrate 85% of new cars produced in Europe and North America by 2013. “To achieve this, suppliers will have to work closely with their clients to develop more consumer friendly voice systems, adding voice systems to other applications such as HMI, and making these systems more affordable, especially for economy and mid-range car segments,” he said.
Mak anticipates strong growth in demand for voice technology from the auto industry as a result of increasing legal, carmaker and consumer requirements to reduce driver distraction. “Automotive voice control opportunities are primarily for handling phone calls via hands-free systems and supporting the surge in demand for using portable music devices,” Mak noted. “The technical issues and investment required to enable natural speech commands, develop strong voice recognition in a noisy environment, and to voice-enable music content will continue to present major challenges.”
Mak added, “While there are greater volumes to be had in voice-enabling portable music devices and content in the vehicle, suppliers must be careful not to remain too focused on those applications that are dictated by fast-moving consumer market trends. Despite the lower volumes, far higher margins can be found in widening the HMI applications that can be voice-enabled particularly for SMS messaging, or operating ventilation systems and electric windows.”