SoundHound, LG Partner To Build Automotive Voice Assistant

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SoundHound and LG Electronics have announced plans to build a voice assistant for cars. The two companies will augment SoundHound’s voice AI platform with LG’s in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system to produce the voice assistant, further widening SounHound’s footprint in space just a couple of weeks after signing a deal with automotive giant Stellantis to embed its AI assistant in several European car brands.

LG SoundHound Cars

LG has designed IVI systems for many automakers, allowing drivers and passengers to control the car’s environmental, entertainment, and communication tools. SoundHound’s speech recognition and natural language understanding technology enhance those interactions with conversational voice AI. Along with Stellantis, SoundHound recently added a significant extension to a deal for its tech with Hyundai and counted Kia and Mercedes among its automotive clients.

“Our agreement with LG will allow auto manufacturers of all sizes to deliver the kind of voice-enabled infotainment experience that users have come to expect in every part of their lives,” SoundHound CEO Keyvan Mohajer said. “We’re entering an era where people are beginning to expect to talk to devices in how they talk to each other, and those interactions will be helpful and proactive. The most advanced voice AI technology enables this experience.”

Car Voice Commerce

SoundHound’s voice commerce capabilities and partnerships are of particular interest to LG. Paying for gas, food, or parking by voice commands while driving hasn’t been around for very long but is rapidly spreading and SoundHound has been among the early adopters. SoundHound and parking services provider Parkopedia teamed up almost two years ago to help drivers find a place to leave their car when they ask their vehicular voice assistant. And it doesn’t seem a huge leap to imagine linking a SoundHound car voice assistant to restaurant order systems after Square signed up to integrate SoundHound’s phone-based voice assistant for restaurants with its popular payment service.

“We’re excited to collaborate with SoundHound and look forward to providing new in-vehicle experiences through seamlessly integrating its voice AI platform with our latest IVI system architecture,” LG Vehicle component Solutions (VS) Company president Eun Seok-Hyun said. “This partnership will allow us better to meet the needs of our auto industry customers and create innovative solutions that will help drive the future of mobility.”

The memorandum of understanding signed by LG and SoundHound leaves the final vision of the car voice assistant amorphous, and it might never come to fruition. After all, LG signed a memorandum of understanding with automotive voice AI developer Cerence at CES in early 2020 to build a voice assistant that neither company appears to have mentioned since. We’ve reached out to LG and Cerence for clarification on the seeming evaporation of that deal and will update here based on their response.