Virtually all new vehicles rely on voice recognition to help operate the increasing number of high-tech features. The problem is that voice recognition systems often fail. A command to change the radio channel is misinterpreted and the navigation screen is suddenly flooded with icons for gas stations and restaurants. After repeatedly struggling to find an address on the main street in a major city, a motorist gives up and plugs the information into their smartphone.
The new J.D. Power 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study reports that voice recognition has become the single largest source of complaints about new vehicles. Problems pairing smartphones to a vehicle’s Bluetooth system is the second most common problem
Voice recognition and device connectivity are often inherent to the technology design and cannot be fixed at the dealership, creating a high level of angst among new-vehicle owners,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.
The biggest problems:
• The system didn’t recognize or misinterpreted verbal commands, cited by 63%;
• The system didn’t recognize or misinterpreted names and words, cited by 44%;
• The system didn’t recognize or misinterpreted numbers, cited by 31%.
Voice recognition has become increasingly important because of all the features automakers are packing into their vehicles. In many cases, motorists can only use voice programming when the vehicle is moving. Carmakers typically lock out their touchscreens to prevent distracted driving while driving, allowing a motorist only to use voice commands to add a new destination.
Despite the complaints, however, a full 70% of new car buyers still say they want a car that can be programmed by voice. The challenge, the study makes clear, is to come up with systems that actually do what they’re supposed to. That’s something manufacturers say they’re working on, but admit it can be difficult to deal with all the different accents that can be faced, even with English speakers. Few expect the problems to be resolved any time soon.