Come Again? Vehicle Voice Recognition Biggest Problem in J.D. Power and Associates Study

By Trevor Dorchies | June 26, 2012
Did you know that there's more computing power in your smartphone than NASA used to put men on the moon? Technology is everywhere you look, and today's cars and trucks are a prime example of this. It's to the point now where you can control what song plays, who you call, or listen to a text message all by voice recognition software found standard on many new vehicles today. While it sounds like the future has arrived, some counter with, "Houston, we have a problem." In the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, the biggest issue found in today's vehicles are the audio, infotainment, and navigation system's lack of being able to recognize voice commands. This issue was the source of more problems than engine or transmission issues. According to Power's study, factory-installed hands-free devices are reported on the most, more than any other mechanical issue. Over the four years that the survey questions people on voice recognition systems, problems have skyrocketed 137 percent. There are a few things automakers attribute to why these systems don't always work as designed. For one, going at a high rate of speed with the windows down will hamper communication thanks to wind noise. Sometime road noise is a problem and the cabin can't quell this issue which makes understanding a voice command even harder. Automakers are aware of these issues though and are working to fix these problems.
Infiniti and Hyundai, for example, offer a call center that backs up the vehicle computer when a voice command isn't recognized. If the computer is unable to decipher what has been asked of it, a call center representative will interrupt it instead. The problem with call centers are that they can become costly and because of this, are only seen as a short-term solution. Over the next four years, around 80 percent of all new vehicles will include a voice recognition system and automakers are exploring their options. Apple's Siri has made headlines lately as the natural voice recognition system will be making its' way into many vehicles in the near future, including Honda and Acura, although no date has been nailed down quite yet. Honda spokeswoman Alicia Jones says another announcement concerning Siri for vehicles, also known as Eyes Free, will come by the end of the year. General Motors has also made it known that it will feature Siri Eyes Free in the upcoming release of the 2013 Spark and Sonic, both of which are set to go on sale later this year. As research and development continues, automakers know what they're up against as technology changes almost daily. The younger the target group, the more intense the complaints. Younger people have high expectations for technology, and have come to expect their phone will pair with their vehicle on the first try. This, of course, isn't always the case. Buyers under 35 years old in the market for a vehicle are the hardest to satisfy, as they have a solid grasp on technology and use it the most. This age group reports twice as many problems and many are turned off if their phone doesn't connect on the first attempt. Besides, if a $200 smartphone can recognize voice commands, why can't a vehicle that can cost 40 times more do the same thing? What say you? Do you have voice recognition in your vehicle? Does it work well or not so much? Tell us about it in the comment section below. Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

Hey, I am a foreign born American. I have a strong accent. So far none of the cars I have tried could listened to my command correctly. None whatsoever! And I am not alone!