It’s becoming easier to talk to your car. Voice-activated controls, which allow you to operate such devices as the stereo or navigation system by telling them what to do, are now simpler thanks to features such as Kia’s UVO.
UVO, meaning “Your Voice,” is based on Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Auto software and allows users to give simple, quick voice commands without going through menus or remembering specific wording. It will be introduced in upcoming new Kia models.
“There are over 1,600 commands, and it’s a very smart voice recognition system,” says Reg Furoy, bilingual training specialist for Kia Canada.
“It takes a look at the key words and matches what’s closest. It links all the words together and takes a look at the sentence, so if you say ‘Play track two’ or ‘Play jukebox album six, track two,’ it puts the words together and the software deciphers it.”
Voice-activated systems were originally found only on very expensive vehicles. The user first had to train the system to recognize his or her voice, and had to memorize a specific sequence of commands. Newer systems now obey almost any voice, but still rely on the user knowing exactly what to say.
By contrast, “What’s playing?” is enough for UVO to access the audio system and determine the song.
“If it’s not sure (what you’re asking), it will ask, ‘Is this what you want?’ and if you say no, it will come up with the second-best or third-best,” Furoy says. “It will start training itself on the main commands that you use all the time. You won’t use 1,600 different commands, but there are ones you’ll use every day, and it will put them in priority when it has a choice, and go to those.”
The system will also recognize two voices and set priorities for each one. If you’re more likely to command the stereo, but your partner prefers to ask about the navigation system, UVO will go to that set of priority commands when it hears each voice.