Volkswagen Claims Four Times Faster Voice Control

Volkswagen is giving in-cabin voice control a boost in its latest infotainment offering for it market leading Golf model in Europe.

It claims the new system allows voice control to respond up to four times faster with several other customer requests have also been incorporated. Due to go into series production in the next few weeks, this upgrade also applies to use of the navigation map and scrolling through lists.

Its most advanced feature is the “Hello Volkswagen” activated voice control. The automaker says this system is also able to understand freely worded phrases from day-to-day life, such as “I’m cold” or “Where can I find a Japanese restaurant in Berlin?”, replicating the effect of talking to an intelligent conversation partner. Thanks to digital microphones, it also recognises whether the driver or the passenger is speaking meaning it can activate the vehicle air conditioning specifically for the person making the request, for example. The optimised system is also capable of asking questions and allowing interruptions.

The improved voice control enables the consumer to operate the entertainment, navigation, telephone and climate control. Comprehension rate has improved substantially, now reaching a level of around 95%. The new software also makes do with fewer system interfaces than before, making it easier to additionally integrate intelligent online functions such as news or weather reports in the future.

Voice control responses and suggestions come from two sources – the cloud and the information stored offline in the vehicle. Online matching increases the recognition rate and the quality of results, while the offline information is available even where there is no mobile network, such as in an underground car park. Whether online or offline, responses and reactions are now as much as four times faster than before. It takes less than five tenths of a second to process an online request on the server, and the feedback arrives in the car in less than a second. If customers wish, they can also finish the request or command by touching the display, where the relevant menus will have already appeared.

The touchscreen has also been upgraded where when the user’s finger comes within a few centimetres of the screen, the buttons around the hazard warning light switch are blocked. As soon as contact is made between finger and screen, this block is then extended to include the sliders for volume and temperature. This means that unintentional activation of the control panels below is almost impossible. Additionally, infrared proximity sensor technology enables gesture control from several centimetres away.

On the hardware side, the MIB3 now features a more powerful System on Chip (SoC). Its central processing unit (CPU) comprises four cores plus the graphics card and the digital signal processor for audio. The new chip unit offers about 25% more computing capacity, while the graphics card triples performance.

Thomas Ulbrich, member of the board of management for Volkswagen Passenger Cars with responsibility for development, said: “This major infotainment upgrade underscores the Golf’s standing in the compact segment. The advances in terms of usability and performance give our customers the very highest level of convenience.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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