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Ford, Nuance: Voice recognition will recognize intent

Ford, Nuance: Voice recognition will recognize intent

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If successful, your car will ultimately interpret what drivers are looking to do. These voice capabilities could understand intent and meaning of words that drivers might say.

Ford and Nuance Communications, a leading voice recognition software company, said they will collaborate to make the automaker's SYNC in-car entertainment system recognize intent.

If successful, your car will ultimately interpret what drivers are looking to do. These voice capabilities could understand intent and meaning of words that drivers might say. SYNC would then coach you on how to complete tasks in the car.

SYNC already understands 10,000 commands, up from 100 in the first generation system. But to truly understand intentions, SYNC will need to understand more commands.

Nuance and Ford said they are testing "a number of new algorithms" to divine intent and meaning. These algorithms are designed to flag common words and phrases that are frequent in conversation, but not commands in the SYNC system. These new algorithms are designed to bridge the gap and coach the driver to issue the right commands.

These intent algorithms will interpret a phrase like "I wanna call John Smith" and translate it to "Call John Smith." If there's not enough information from the driver, SYNC will ask more questions.

This process, which will be an improvement, still has a problem: SYNC will have to coach the driver to use its vocabulary. Ultimately, SYNC's system will have to adapt to how humans actually speak. Nuance has several language models for SYNC.

Ford said that 85 percent of its car owners are using voice controls, up from 70 percent in 2010.

Separately, Ford said that it is rolling out its AppLink program to 10 more vehicles in 2012. It also has 2,500 developers creating in-car applications.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure