Communicate, Collaborate, Drive?

Business communications in connected cars

Communicate, Collaborate, Drive?

Could collaboration and communication technology be a new essential addition to your in-car experience? According to studies from Voicebot, one of the leading producers of an online publication for the voice and AI industry, this tech could be a driving factor in our future choices for automobiles.

In conjunction with Drivetime, the world’s first company offering interactive entertainment for drivers in the modern vehicle, Voicebot conducted a study into 1,040 US customers aged 18 and older. The company found that access to AI assistants behind the wheel is becoming an increasingly popular feature in today’s cars. In the years to come, we may discover that having an intelligent bot with you on your road trip could be just as valuable as having a co-pilot on a plane.

Among some of the most exciting findings from the report are:

  • Almost twice as many adults have used a smart assistant in their car compared to those using a smart speaker
  • 5% of drivers use their in-car assistants every month already
  • 60% of car buyers believe that the availability of smart assistants in cars is relevant to their purchasing decisions

Are Car Assistants More Valuable than Home Assistants?

Smart speakers are growing increasingly popular in the current consumer marketplace. Devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa are some of the fastest-selling tech today. However, despite this, Voicebot’s study revealed that almost twice as many adults rely on voice assistants in their car than those who use these tools at home (114 million compared to 57.8 million).

The car also claims a higher number of monthly active users at 77 million compared to 45.7 million in the home. What’s more, according to Voicebot, the number of monthly active users in the voice assistant realm is higher among car owners than smartphone users. Despite this, the car is often an overlooked option when it comes to implementing voice.

One of the reasons that car-based voice assistants may be so popular today is that they’ve been around for much longer than most people realise. Speech recognition arrived in the automotive world in 2004, and it has had a significant amount of time to develop a user base. There are many more car owners than smart speaker owners in the world today, and since a driver’s eyes and hands are occupied behind the wheel, there’s a greater demand for the option to access features with voice alone. Voice assistants can help today’s drivers to access information, entertainment, and more when on the road.

Half of Car Owners Use Voice Assistants When Driving

Voicebot’s survey found that not only is there a massive demand for in-car assistants, but there’s also significant room for growth going forward. Currently, about half of all car owners surveyed said that they had used a voice assistant in their car. Additionally, 67.5% of those people use their assistants every month. The impact of this technology could be even bigger as voice apps are tailored to support the in-car experience.

For instance, developers could design apps that that help drivers to locate the items that they need and navigate them automatically towards stores that sell the products that they’re looking for. However, not a lot of app developers today have thought about how they can tailor their user experience to the driver context. This could be an excellent opportunity for tech companies going forward.

Voicebot’s study found that cars are one of the most significant access points for voice in the marketplace. Car travel exceeds about 80 billion hours on average per year, and countless people spend hours in their car throughout the week. Although your eyes and hands should always be occupied when you’re behind the wheel, voice assistants mean that today’s drivers can use their voice to stay connected to the office, collaborate with teams, and even access useful information on the go.

Communication and Collaboration Through In-Car Assistants

Though the evolution in this area will likely start with smart assistants that can provide directions and other useful content to drivers on the go, there’s a chance that we could see the functionality extending into the communication and collaboration space too.

Already, we’ve seen the arrival of communication and collaboration solutions in cars through collaborations between leading vendors and car manufacturers. For instance, now that 60% of car buyers have suggested that the presence of a voice assistant is crucial to their car purchasing decisions, manufacturers like Volvo are partnering with Microsoft to add Skype for Business integration into their 90-Series cars. Microsoft also announced a while back that it is integrating with the BMW iDrive system to bring Skype for Business to BMW vehicles too.

Although some people are nervous that the use of voice assistants in cars might take more of a driver’s attention away from the wheel, the general sentiment towards this technology is possible. More than half of the car owners surveyed by Voicebot believe that in-car assistants have improved in quality over the last two years. Additionally, around one in five car buyers have said that the presence of a preferred voice-based virtual assistant is their car is a requirement or consideration when they’re looking for a new car. Though some automakers would prefer to offer a native assistant to drivers, consumer habit formation around common assistants like Google and Alexa is creating an environment where integrations are essential.

In the future, we’ll likely see more manufacturers creating environments where multiple assistants can interact with consumers depending on their preferences.

Endless Opportunities for In-Car Assistants

The opportunities for voice assistants in today’s cars are growing more significant all the time. According to Voicebot’s study, most users today use their assistants to make calls so that they can keep their hands and eyes free when they need to communicate with people inside and outside of the office. In the future, it could be possible to have assistants to read relevant information to drivers while they’re behind the wheel and offer voice-based updates from a collaboration environment.

As we all become more comfortable with the idea of using voice assistants in the consumer and business environments, access to productive and efficient tools in the car may become a valuable feature of all future vehicles.


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