AI Voice Assistants to Push Success of Autonomous Driving, Software-defined Vehicle

  • AI voice assistants are being integrated into cars for hands-free and intuitive functionality.
  • Voice assistants like Google Assistant and Apple Siri can recognize and respond to natural language commands, allowing drivers to interact with their vehicles more effectively.
  • Integrating natural voice virtual assistants is complex and requires significant resources and expertise in learning and data collection. As a result, only a few companies can currently do it successfully.

ChatGPT’s popularity has encouraged many people to think about AI’s potential applications. One of them is in the automotive sector. With the simplification of the dashboard in vehicles, there has been a trend towards integrating more functions into the central display, such as navigation, entertainment, climate control and vehicle diagnostics. The central computer in vehicles is becoming more powerful and can do more things. All this allows easier and more user-friendly ways for drivers to interact with their vehicles while enabling more advanced and customizable functions for the vehicle itself.

Also, this has matched the development of software-defined vehicles, which take this integration a step further by using a centralized software architecture to control all vehicle functions. This allows for greater flexibility and the ability to update vehicle systems over the air (OTA).

There has been an increasing demand for additional functions to be integrated into the central display, such as voice assistant, in-car digital assistant, and other advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). However, oversimplification leads to many problems. Some people still like to use knobs or buttons in the auto cabin, despite the prevalence of touchscreen displays in modern cars. Below are some reasons:

  • Tactile feedback: Many people find it more intuitive to use these physical controls than to navigate through a digital menu on a touchscreen display. Knobs and buttons provide physical feedback when they are pressed or turned, which can make it easier to interact with the controls without taking your eyes off the road.
  • Visibility: In some cases, knobs and buttons can be easier to see and use in bright sunlight or other challenging light conditions, as they do not suffer from glare or reflections in the same way that a touchscreen display might.
  • Safety: Using physical knobs and buttons can be safer than interacting with a touchscreen display, as it allows the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a simplified human-machine interface (HMI) on the central screen of a car that is user-friendly, reliable and intuitive in order to minimize the learning curve for drivers and enable them to easily and efficiently access the desired features without encountering any errors. The most important of these is the virtual voice assistant.

There are several popular virtual voice assistants available in the market today, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby, Baidu Duer and Xiaomi Xiao AI. In addition, there are other proprietary virtual voice assistants designed specifically for the automotive industry, such as Cerence, SoundHound Houndify, Harman Ignite and Nuance Dragon Drive.

The majority of these virtual assistants in the automotive industry are created to seamlessly integrate with the vehicle infotainment systems to offer drivers a variety of voice-activated functionalities, including hands-free phone calls, weather updates, music streaming, and voice-activated navigation. Moreover, they are designed to recognize and respond to natural language commands, enabling drivers to engage with their vehicles in a more intuitive and effortless manner. By providing a safe and convenient way to interact with vehicles, these virtual voice assistants allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

While virtual voice assistants have improved significantly in recent years, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed. Here are some common problems that currently exist with virtual voice assistants:

  • Understanding complex commands: Virtual voice assistants may encounter difficulties in comprehending intricate commands or requests that involve several variables or conditions.
  • Accents and dialects: Virtual voice assistants may also have difficulty understanding users with different accents or dialects.
  • Background noise: Virtual voice assistants can be sensitive to background noise, which can make it difficult for them to understand user commands or requests.
  • Privacy concerns: As virtual voice assistants become more ubiquitous, there are growing concerns about the privacy of user data.
  • Integration with other automotive systems: Virtual voice assistants may have difficulty integrating with other systems or devices, which can limit their functionality and usefulness.

ChatGPT can speak the natural language and converse like a human because it is a language model that has been trained on a massive amount of text data using a deep-learning technique called transformer architecture. During its training, ChatGPT was exposed to vast amounts of natural language text data, such as books, articles and web pages. This allowed it to learn the patterns and structures of human language, including grammar, vocabulary, syntax and context.

Unlike broad-based training methods, natural language training, such as that offered by ChatGPT, allows for the development of models that are finely tuned to specialized data sets, which may include frequently used vehicle commands or a range of distinct national accents. The model is then fine-tuned by further training it on the large corpus of unlabeled data to improve its language understanding capabilities.

The following figure shows our forecast for the use of intelligent voice control in cars.

Source: Global Automotive ADAS/AD Sensor Forecast by the Level of Autonomy, 2021-2030F

Overall, the potential of natural language voice conversation assistants in cars is vast, and with ongoing research and development, we can expect to see more advanced and sophisticated voice assistants in the future. Developing a successful natural language virtual voice assistant for use in cars is a complex and time-consuming process that requires multiple iterations of training and fine-tuning.

Since the development necessitates a considerable amount of data, computational resources and expertise, only a handful of companies such as Microsoft, Tesla, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Google and Baidu have the resources to undertake this work. The development of the technology is estimated to take three to four years. There will be an increased demand for vehicles above Level 3.

As highlighted in our report “Should Automotive OEMs Get Into Self-driving Chip Production?”, the automotive industry will confront obstacles related to electrification and intelligent technology, necessitating sustained capital investments and support from semiconductor suppliers. Consequently, only a handful of established car manufacturers with considerable economies of scale will be able to finance these initiatives. The growing popularity of natural voice control in cars will only intensify these challenges.

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Podcast: High-res, Lossless Audio Crucial in Delivery of Music in its Purest Form

Personal and home audio technology has greatly evolved over the years. We have moved from wired to mono Bluetooth and stereo wireless headphones to True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds. In the home audio segment, soundbars are becoming popular as they can deliver a great home theatre experience. But it is not just about the changing form factors, there have been improvements in audio delivery systems as well. Support for higher quality audio, such as lossless audio, is important in delivering music in its purest form.

The TWS earbuds, in particular, include a lot of hardware and software features that enable Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), ambient awareness, and multiple mics to offer crisp call clarity. These features are quite helpful in the current work-from-home and learn-from-home scenarios. Also, 5G is here, enabling higher throughput and thus higher quality audio from streaming services like Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Music HD and Apple Music, which was not possible in the 3G and 4G era. So, why are these new technologies important in enhancing the audio listening experience?

In the latest episode of ‘The Counterpoint Podcast’, host Peter Richardson is joined by Gyanendra Singh, Head of Audio Marketing for Sony India, to talk about trends in the audio space. Singh, with his 17 years of experience in Sony’s audio department, shares his thoughts on high-res and other audio formats, how the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in demand for audio products, and more. He also touches upon the home audio segment and how it is growing due to the pandemic-triggered restrictions on visiting cinema halls.

Hit the play button to listen to the podcast

Read the podcast transcript here.

Podcast Chapter Markers

2:19 – How is the audio technology evolving on the hardware side with changing form factors?

4:25 – How do you see the demand changing among consumers for wireless audio in general?

7:33 – ANC is offered at different price points, so how does Sony stand apart from its competitors?

9:44 – What is the role of different audio standards within the high-resolution space?

13:45 – What are your thoughts on Alexa and Google Assistant being offered across personal audio, TV, and portable speakers?

15:35 – Has COVID-19 changed consumer spending habits when it comes to home audio products?

18:22 – Any final comments on coming audio technology changes?

Also available for listening/download on:


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Samsung Galaxy Note 10+: Slick, Buttery Smooth & Still Feels New Even After a Year – Welcome to the New Samsung!

Samsung is all set to launch the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra smartphones, along with a smartwatch and TWS earphones on August 5. There is a lot of excitement as to what improvements the new smartphones will bring over last year’s Galaxy Note 10-series, especially with Galaxy Note 10+ being my daily driver. But, as we still have a little over a week for the launch, let us take a step back and look at how well does the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ holds up after nearly a year.

When you get a new smartphone right out-of-the-box, almost everything runs fast and smooth. The battery also performs well, but as the smartphone starts aging, the performance starts to degrade. This is true in the case of most entry-level and affordable phones as they lack powerful hardware that can scale with extensive data storage, usage, and components aging. But with a flagship smartphone with top-of-the-line hardware, one would naturally expect optimal performance in the long run, as well as consumers, are now holding on to their devices even longer.

So, how do you gauge a smartphone’s long-term performance? Well, we believe, there are three key indicators – fluidity in day-to-day usage, battery life, and software support. Here is our “long-term” review of the Galaxy Note 10+ launched exactly 11 months ago.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus long term review front

Performance: Still as Smooth as Butter?

Let us begin with the elephant in the room. Under the hood, the Galaxy Note 10+ is powered by a 7nm EUV based Exynos 9825 SoC. It has an octa-core CPU with two high-performance custom M4 (Mongoose) cores (2.73GHz), in addition to the two Cortex-A75 high-performance cores (2.4GHz), and four Cortex-A55 based efficiency cores (1.9GHz). The SoC further integrates an ARM Mali-G76 MP12 GPU and a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for on-device AI. As for memory, the device we have been using sports 12GB of LPDDR 4x RAM, and a high-speed UFS 3.0 256GB UFS interface-based NAND Flash storage. It also integrates an LTE-A Pro Cat 20 modem and dual-SIM capability.

Note-series has been my primary device since the Note 8, and have switched to Note 9, and then Note 10+. Around the time of Note 8, the performance would get sluggish after about six months of usage. Note 9 had some improvements where the performance was more refined. But the Note 10+ feels powerful and smooth as butter, even after nearly using it for a year.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus long term review aura glow

My typical usage has social media apps running in the background, with me switching between them at regular intervals. I also have a stock market terminal (Zerodha Kite) app running in the background on trading days. And mostly, I am also listening to music or podcasts while working alongside always connected Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy Buds via Bluetooth.

Even after nearly a year, the Note 10+ is as fluid as day one.

Though, there are certain factors here that ensure optimal performance. The chipset with the 7nm process node ensures powerful performance as well as efficiency. Secondly, having more than enough RAM just makes it easy for the smartphone to handle the stress from multitasking to advanced gaming applications such as PUBG Mobile. At any given point, even with a few apps open in the background, there is around 3GB-4GB of free RAM. This is one of the reasons for the smooth performance. The good part is the One UI skin intelligently optimizes things based on your usage and offers optimal performance. I will talk more about it in the software part. I have more than 300 apps installed, along with other data, which consumes close to 120GB space.

Timely Software Upgrade with the Latest Security Patches

When the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ was launched in August 2019, it was shipped with Android 9 Pie with One UI skin on top. Google officially released the Android 10 update in September 2019, and in December 2019, Samsung rolled out the update to the Note 10 smartphones. The rollout time has come down, compared to three years ago where it would take almost a year. And some credit can be given to Google for bringing Project Treble to address the fragmentation issue.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus android 10

Samsung has also been consistent in rolling out monthly security patches, at least to the flagship smartphones. My Galaxy Note 10+ is already running the July 2020 security patch, which is a good thing. It also gives peace of mind where critical vulnerabilities will be fixed. Now, Google has already released the Android 11 Developer Beta with the final version expected in August end or early September. It will be interesting to see if the software upgrades this time will be even faster.

A Battery that Still Sails Through a Workday

The Galaxy Note 10+ is armed with a 4,300mAh battery with support for up to 45W fast charging. Though, the in-box charger comes with 25W capacity. It takes close to 70-75 minutes to fully charge the smartphone battery. In terms of battery life, I have consistently got a full day worth juice, with some charge still left at the end of the day. But this will vary based on individual usage.

In my case, the Bluetooth is on all the time, as my Galaxy Watch is always connected to it. Also, I listen to music, binge watch, and talk to friends on Discord while gaming, all of which averages out to three hours. This is the time when the TWS earbuds are connected. Besides, I am highly active on WhatsApp and Twitter, and apps like Feedly scrolling through news and more. With all this usage, the battery can go a full day without any hiccups, giving a screen time of close to five hours.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus sleeping apps

One interesting bit I found in the One UI 2 custom skin is the ability to detect apps that I have not used in a long time and disable them. So even though I have like over 300 apps on the phone, the most used ones do not hog unnecessary battery in the background. You can manually add apps to the “Sleeping List” from the Device Care menu. I think this is a nifty addition for battery optimization. For instance, I have MyJio, Licious, and Swarm apps in sleep mode. I only need Swarm when I go to places so I can check-in. In the case of Licious, I just need it when ordering food, whereas MyJio, I only need to when recharging my phone number. Putting them to sleep means the apps will not wake up until I open it, and so the unwanted notifications will also stay away.

Battery optimizations in One UI offers perfect balance between powerful performance and efficiency.

S Pen: Mightier than the Sword?

Now, while the above parts that I talked about are key indicators to gauge the long-term performance, let me shift focus to other important stuff. Starting with the S Pen, which is the heart and USP of the Note-series. It has been a good addition, and more functional than the earlier iterations.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus long term review s pen

While I do not use the gyro features to zoom in and out in the camera app, or play/pause music, as my smartwatch does that, the S Pen itself is a handy tool in different situations. Let me explain that in detail. Recently, I had visited a furniture shop and was looking for a TV cabinet unit. The shop owner did show me different readymade patterns, but I had something else in mind and asked him for a couple of days to get back.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus long term review s pen use

I went back to the drawing board (Samsung Notes app) and just started sketching how I want it to be. The moment I was done I just had to share the image with him in the form of an image file. If this was some other phone, maybe I would have scribbled it on a paper using a pen/pencil, clicked a photo, and sent it to him. These little things add a great value proposition to the Note-series.

S Pen has vastly improved over the years, from being a stylus to a unique, functional addition.

Cameras: Consistent and Reliable Performer

The cameras on the Galaxy Note 10+ may not have higher megapixel count like most other flagships today, or even Samsung’s own Galaxy S20 Ultra with 108MP sensor. But there is something that they are still good at – being consistent and reliable. Before the pandemic hit, I have traveled to different places for holidays and was able to capture some memorable moments – be it in daylight or lowlight.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus long term review cameras

I like the option of having versatility in terms of shooting modes with four different camera sensors – where there is a wide, ultra-wide, and 2X telephoto option, along with a depth sensor. The front camera sensor with auto-focus helps get clearer selfies even in challenging lighting. Below are some photos I clicked over this past year from the Galaxy Note 10+.











The quad cameras on the Note 10+ clicks great photos irrespective of the lighting conditions.

DeX: Another Interesting Addition

While not a lot of people give importance to the DeX Mode feature, I think it does deserve a shoutout. There is a lot of research and development that goes into creating such features. It transforms your phone into a PC (sort of). All you need is a monitor or a TV and use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Samsung also rolled out a DeX app for Windows and macOS that lets you run Android apps under the PC environment.

But I found this feature useful when I was on a trip and sitting inside a hotel room, looking to watch a couple of episodes from the OTT platform on a bigger screen. Of course, it needed me to carry Type-C to HDMI dongle, which is always in my bag. So, it was just about hooking up the same to the hotel’s TV using HDMI cable.

counterpoint samsung dex galaxy note 10 plus

Even without a mouse and keyboard, you can browse the internet, view your Word, PDF, and Excel files and photos on a big screen. Well, you can even play music on your favorite apps and get louder audio using TV speakers. As you can see in the above image, I am taking a final look at the content I wrote (Word app), I’m also browsing on Chrome, listening to music on Spotify, and taking a closer look at a chart on the stock market app.

DeX is a powerful feature baked into the One UI with improved usability.

Sturdy Build and Premium Design

One of the things that I admire about the Galaxy Note 10+ is the design, and that back with Aura Glow color option. Even after one year, I simply cannot stop flaunting the phone in front of my friends. I also like how the weight is equally distributed, and it is even lighter than the Galaxy Note 9. The overall build quality is good too, and even though I do not use the phone with a case or cover, it has held up the wear and tear quite well.

counterpoint samsung galaxy note 10 plus aura glow

Samsung Pay has been a Lifesaver

I have mentioned this in my previous reviews of the Galaxy S & Note series as well. Samsung Pay with MST technology has been a lifesaver for me on several occasions. Just a week ago, I took my bike out to fill petrol and check the air pressure in the types. And I generally pay via mobile wallets, so I was not carrying cash or cards. Out of luck, the mobile wallet payment was not working, and by the time the guy could tell that to me, petrol was already filled. But luckily, the MST technology was of a big help here and I could make payment using my debit card, without physically having it. This is one of the unique features that Samsung flagship phones have, and I think more companies should also adopt this.

Samsung Pay is an excellent addition that makes peer-to-peer money transfer and utility bill payments simpler.

Some Areas of Improvement

The entire Galaxy Note series has always billed as a powerful productivity tool. And with AI & Machine Learning that all tech giants are working on, you could have expected Samsung’s Bixby to give a tough fight to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. The initial version of Bixby was pretty good, and had big potential, with a lot of voice commands that not a lot of other AI assistants supported.

Sadly, Bixby 2.0 is a disappointing upgrade that took away the key voice features. And it does not even have on-device processing for simple commands. I mean, at least things like increase/decrease volume, turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth On/Off, and so on should at least work without connecting to the internet, like in the case of Google Assistant.

Even the assistant screen on the home screen (swiping left to right) could have been better. I’ve replaced that with Microsoft Launcher and that works better than One UI launcher. In fact, given Samsung and Microsoft partnership, if you are invested in the Microsoft ecosystem of apps – Office 365, Outlook, and more, I would suggest switching to Microsoft Launcher.

Conclusion: The Galaxy Note 10+ is Still A Powerful Option Today

As I mentioned above, the Galaxy Note 20 series is set to launch soon. And like me, I hope many others will be excited and looking forward to the new phone. But those on a tighter budget may find it reasonable to go for last year’s Galaxy Note 10-series when it gets a price cut. It is still a beast of the phone with sheer-power that can handle all your needs, be it gaming, productivity, or photography.

Also Read: Strategic Reviews and Insights on The Latest Smartphones

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