Honda Next Generation Speech User Interface 2009-01-0518
Honda, working closely with IBM for their model year 2009 introduction, will be releasing the next step in the evolution of speech user interfaces in vehicles. The new Honda vehicles will include the leading edge Free Form Command (FFC) technology developed by IBM as part of its IBM Embedded ViaVoice (EVV) product line.
At its core, Free Form Commands improve the overall end-user experience by creating a system that is easier to use out of the box by increasing the overall usability of the system. Free Form Commands employ an innovative approach which allows Statistical Language Model technology to be deployed within the constraints of an embedded computing environment.
This technology allows users to speak commands that are not part of a predefined fixed set of phrases, as is required in today’s vehicles, but instead speak command phrases that match the application functional area they are targeting. The FFC technology goes beyond just recognizing what phrase is spoken, in that the system also uses statistical models to determine the meaning of the phrase via semantic interpretation. For example, in today’s systems, the system designer chooses what commands can be spoken to change the radio station, such as “radio tune 97.9”. When a system is designed using Free Form Commands, the system designer specifies that the user should be able to change the radio station, then using statistical modeling techniques, models are developed that enable this task.
As a result, the end-user can now speak a variety of natural phrases to complete that task, such as “tune the radio to 97.9”, “I want to listen to 97.9”, “switch to 97.9”, “change to 97.9”, etc…. This leads to an easier to use system providing greater end-user satisfaction. The improvement in usability is a direct result of reducing the amount of information the user has to memorize. With the previous releases of the system, the user had to remember specific format and phrases of the commands, but with FFC technology, the user only needs to know the type of commands that the system will understand and speak a phrase that is natural to them in that context.
In this paper, we will discuss how Honda engaged IBM at the early stages to produce research level prototypes to set the direction for the technology, We will then describe Honda’s and IBM’s refinement of the technology to target a system that would be deployable in a vehicle, the testing and methodology used to validate the solution was valuable to the end-user, and an overview of the Free Form Command technology.