Voice Recognition Growing Problem in New Cars

Automakers continue to struggle with the growing demand for voice recogntion in the so-called connected car. It turns out the car is not always connected to the web or phone or is linked in an ineffective way that is turning customers off. As a result, there is a growing case of, well, Bluetooth blues among drivers. More than half (52%) of these owners use an iPhone and 41% use an Android phone.

Audio, communication, entertainment and navigation systems are the most problematic component category, according to consultancy J.D. Power. Built-in voice recognition surpasses wind noise as the problem most frequently reported by new-vehicle owners. Bluetooth connectivity is the second most frequently reported problem, followed by wind noise and navigation problems according to a study just released.

Problems with built-in voice recognition averages 8.3 problems per 100 this year, up from 7.6 PP100 in 2013. The voice recognition problems customers cite most often relate to three built-in hands-free communication issues: does not recognize/misinterprets verbal commands (63%); does not recognize/misinterprets names/words (44%); and does not recognize/misinterprets numbers (31%).

Unlike wind noise or other mechanical problems that can be fixed at a dealership, if there are voice recognition and connectivity problems, owners to live with the shortcomings. Worse, the use of backup options, such as knobs and controls on the steering wheel and/ or the head unit, to offset problems is deeply dissatisfying since it defeats the whole purpose of selecting the connectivity option in the first place.

Powers says that the majority of new-vehicle owners express interest in having built-in voice recognition and connectivity. However, these same owners indicate their wireless phone is more robust than current built-in systems. Moreover, they are reluctant to pay for technology they perceive will not work as expected. Nearly three-fourths (70%) of new-vehicle owners indicate interest in built-in voice recognition. When given a cost of $500 for this technology, purchase interest drops to 44%.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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