There were two new features included in yesterday’s Lexus Enform press release that I thought needed special attention. The first feature is Lexus’ new voice control system:
This new casual-speech voice recognition system, called voice command, features VoiceBox Technology’s award-winning, patented Conversational Voice Search, and allows drivers to speak more flexible, conversational commands for easier access and control.
Without voice command, users must speak commands in a specific order, e.g., “Phone > Dial by Name > Dial Bob.” Now this same task can be completed simply by saying, “Call Bob at home.” The voice command system also works to control many functions of the audio system, heating and air conditioning, and the navigation system. Commands such as, “Make it cooler,” “Let’s find XM channel 46,” “I want a Japanese restaurant,” and “Where’s the nearest gas station along my route?”
As with any voice recognition software, there has to be some skepticism, but I know from recent experience that these systems have been greatly improved and are immensely useful. It also raises an interesting point.
It could be said that the touchscreen is the easiest way to navigate in-car, and that Lexus’ adoption of the Remote Touch controller was the wrong direction. However, combine the controller with strong voice recognition and you might have the best possible interface.
The other thing I noticed in the press release was the Lexus Insider service:
One thing we know about Lexus drivers is that they appreciate up-to-the-minute information about the world around them. With Lexus Insider, a complimentary service on all Lexus Enform navigation-equipped vehicles, customers will be able to listen to audio broadcasts in their vehicles with the push of a button.
Because broadcast data transmission to automobiles is necessarily complicated by the unpredictable nature of when, and for how long, vehicles will be powered on, Lexus Insider makes use of innovative technology to optimize delivery.
Basically, this is a roundabout way of saying Lexus Enform will have a podcasting feature. On a technical level, this seemed like a very forward thinking move, and obviously the marketing/partnership opportunities are significant. Great move.