Next-Gen OnStar System Contains Speech

Soon you might be able to use the OnStar system in your GM vehicle to update your Facebook profile while driving, but more importantly, OnStar says drivers will be able to use voice commands without compromising their safety because of new improvements made in the new ninth-generation version of OnStar.

New voice commands are one component of what OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors, is calling a relaunch that focuses on safe connectivity. OnStar will also provide a sub-brand for smartphone applications for Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. Currently, OnStar says that it is in beta-testing for a voice texting. If implemented, drivers could have messages read to them via Bluetooth. Drivers would also be able to respond to messages using a button on the steering wheel and could use a voice command that is preset.

However, currently available in the latest hardware, OnStar asserts it has improved its design with natural voice recognition, and that it’s now more flexible, says John Kobus, communications manager at OnStar. He contends that the system is now smart enough to interpret different sentences and phrases without actually hearing the exact commands from the user. “For example, if a subscriber wants to place a call using the Hands Free Calling System, if they simply say ‘I would like to make a phone call or ‘need to make a phone call’ instead of saying the exact ‘dial’ or ‘call’ command.”

Kobus also adds that OnStar has made improvements to the system’s ability to understand regional dialects. “This means that a subscriber in southern Louisiana will be just as easily understood by the OnStar system as a subscriber in Long Island or Minnesota, no matter how thick his or her accent may be.”

According to Kobus, tests are performed in four language (English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese) so the system can be used in more than 30 different dialects, vehicle models, and a wide range of driving and noise conditions. 

“The new campaign retains all of the core strengths of safety and security that OnStar is known for, but also adds the idea of powerfully simple connectivity," said Sam Mancuso, OnStar chief marketing officer, in a statement. "The creative showcases how we provide our customers connectivity to all the things that matter most to them, like family, friends, social media tools, and our OnStar advisors."

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