Talk to your Sonata using AI assistant by Kakao

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Talk to your Sonata using AI assistant by Kakao

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The artificial-intelligence assistant Kakao i offers road guidance in Hyundai Motor’s new Sonata model due for release this week. [KAKAO]

Kakao’s artificial intelligence-enabled digital assistant will be used in Hyundai Motor’s new Sonata to take voice commands for drivers, the two companies said Monday.

On its release this week, the 2019 Sonata will be the first Korean vehicle to be equipped with an AI assistant. It is the first time the Kakao i system will be made part of a car’s infotainment system.

In a developers’ conference last year, top Kakao officials involved in AI development said that cars and homes were the first physical locations the company was targeting for the technology.

The two companies have been working together since 2017 to develop an AI system. The new Sonata will be its first test.

A button to summon the AI assistant will be located on the steering wheel. From voice commands, Kakao i can provide more than 10 types of information including weather, news briefings, stock prices, translations, trending keywords and navigation. It can also answer questions on television shows and movies such as synopses of the latest Marvel movies.

Hyundai already offers voice command queries for navigation systems in some of its cars. Kakao’s AI assistant will allow drivers to use more natural language, Hyundai said. Whereas in the past, voice queries were more successful if they were a succession of key phrases, like “road guide, Hyundai Motor, headquarters,” Kakao i is able to understand more natural sentences like, “Take me to Hyundai Motor headquarters” or “Let’s go to Seoul Station.”

Controlling air conditioning and heating can also be done through voice commands. This includes detailed controls such as directing the strength or direction of the cooling or heating.

Hyundai and Kakao plan to expand the scope of functions of Kakao i while making sure the system will not distract drivers.

Last September, BMW launched a digital assistant service for its cars in partnership with Amazon’s Alexa.

“Controlling the vehicle through voice commands is a core function in preparing for the future of connected cars, which will offer an immense amount of information and content to drivers,” said Hyundai.

A survey by Voicebot, a U.S. website that presents research and analysis on voice technology, showed that twice as many adults are using digital assistants in their cars than at home via smart speakers.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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