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Automotive and in-car technologies have been rapidly evolving with a vast array of innovative features and a multitude of differing ways for users to interact with them.
This announcement is part of the government of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) program to actively support companies that are innovating in these sectors, to bring together the strength in Ontario’s manufacturing industry with it’s growing AI technology sector to build better platforms for the Automotive industry.
Research has shown that drivers' lack of understanding on how to use these features can cause them to be unused, or even unsafe. Preliminary research done by Dr. Francesco Biondi PhD at the University of Windsor Ontario has shown that the use of a conversational assistant that informs occupants on vehicle features makes 90% of users feel more knowledgeable about vehicle functions.1 In order for the next generation of vehicles to provide the true value of new features and services, communication with drivers and passengers will be critical.
With the trend towards smart cockpits and digital screens only growing in the automotive industry, it is important to understand that the interaction between user and vehicle does not end with the screen, but in reality is woven deeply through the entire vehicle experience, from the engine to the interior. Everything that users interact with in the car needs to work together to provide a coordinated, intelligent, and intuitive experience.
iNAGO has been working for several years to create an assistant technology that enables intuitive conversational interaction. Now, the next generation of their netpeople assistant platform allows automakers to create their own intelligent Assistant that delivers not only services, but is fully knowledgeable about the functionality of the vehicle. The Assistant uses AI to personalize the experience for each unique user and allows occupants to speak naturally to interact with the vehicle’s information and control, internet content and services, and OEM specific services.
During development iNAGO realized that although a conversational assistant provides a safer and simpler experience, it also needs to be deeply integrated into the vehicle functionality and go beyond the traditional display to provide a holistic and complete experience. "Most development teams are either focused on the physical cockpit or infotainment unit, but the next generation will be an integrated ecosystem of the hardware, software and physical components working together to interact with users in the car" says Ron Di Carlantonio, Founder and CEO of iNAGO, "and that will not only make the user experience better, but will build that critical communication channel between OEM and their customers."
As experts in the interior and physical components of the in-car experience, ABC Technologies has been creating the next generation of "smart" components that are able to sense, calculate and respond. They share iNAGO's vision to integrate the digital interface with the physical interface, coordinated by an AI core to continuously learn, improve and provide the ultimate personal experience. ABC brings to the table state-of-the-art Design, Development and Production of plastic automotive systems and components that allows full integration with OEMs worldwide. Understanding the need to transform physical parts into smart interiors led to ABC partnering with iNAGO to make that a reality.
“We are making components that are lighter, safer and now smarter,” says Sean Sanjabi, ABC Technologies' Manager of the Advanced Product Development Team. "As a Canadian AI tech company, iNAGO allows us to design our components that are deeply integrated into vehicle data and systems and interact directly with users through a whole new medium - voice."
Through the AVIN R&D Partnership Fund, iNAGO and ABC Technologies’ are partnering to create the next generation of smart cockpit, which infuses key technologies that they believe are critical to the future of automotive connectivity. Support from AVIN is $596,682, with a private sector investment of $1,212,886, for a total project value of $1,809,768.
“We are delighted the province’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network is helping to spur collaboration and advance Ontario innovation,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Ranking second in North America for vehicle production, and with the continent’s second-largest IT cluster, Ontario has the combination of talented people and industry expertise to shape the next generation of vehicle and mobility technologies.”