If you watched the popular ’80s TV show Knight Rider, either the original series or one of the many film and TV follow-ons and remakes, you’ve probably fantasized about talking to your car like how Michael Knight issued instructions to KITT.
Modern technology is catching up to fiction, and now you can control your smartphone, home entertainment system, lights, and more with services and voice recognition tech such as Siri, Google Voice search and Amazon Echo. Some tech is even making it into cars, like Ford Motor Co.’s support for Siri Eyes-Free on its SYNC infotainment system that allows drivers to access iPhone and navigation functions using just their voice.
Today the Volvo Car Group, through a partnership with Microsoft, is joining the likes of Hyundai Motor America and its Bluelink smartwatch app, to allow drivers to talk to their car via a wearable device.
The partnership, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) currently taking place in Las Vegas, will allow Volvo drivers to use their connected Microsoft Band 2 to issue verbal instructions to their car to set the navigation, start the heater, lock/unlock the doors, flash the lights or sound the horn via Volvo’s mobile app Volvo on Call.
Volvo on Call first came to life as a car-based telematics system in 2001 and used a car-installed SIM to provide safety, security and tracking services in Volvo cars in case of accident, breakdown or theft. The service has evolved into a mobile app available for iOS, Android and Windows and now allows for a range of functions to be performed via a smartphone or tablet, including roadside assistance, automatic collision alert, theft alert and more.
Volvo recently started looking at technology advances outside the automotive space with an interest in technology that can make its customers’ lives easier, better, safer and more fun. As a result, this is not the first time Volvo has teamed up with Microsoft to bring new tech to Volvo drivers.
In November 2015, Volvo and Microsoft announced a collaboration to bring Microsoft’s Augmented Reality (AR) headset, the HoloLens, into Volvo showrooms starting in 2016. Using HoloLens headsets, Volvo sales staff will be able to demonstrate car features like safety features, collision avoidance and customization options through the use of AR.
The functionality to control a Volvo with voice commands via a connected Microsoft Band 2 will roll out to customers in all Volvo on Call-enabled markets in spring 2016.