Seeing that AI is the buzzword of 2016 and is appearing in nearly every product you can conceivably buy today, why not add it to a place where it is needed. Your car.
Over on Kickstarter, a company by the name of Next Thing Co. has passed its $100,000 funding goal to create the Dashbot, a KITT inspired, AI voice assistant for your car.
The Dashbot does a lot of things that you typically would need to do with some physical input to your phone. Such as, ask for directions, play music, read and reply to messages and make or answer phone calls. A lot of this sounds like things you can already, sort of, do with your smartphone, but Dashbot is trying to make it so that you can rely on it to be voice controlled 100% of the time.
At a very basic level, comparing the Dashbot to my Nexus 6P voice features I can do all of these same things, so why buy the Dashbot? Which costs around $50 on Kickstarter, by the way. Well, 8 out of 10 times my Nexus cannot understand what I am saying because the microphone is feeble and the sound of the vehicle and road noises interfere. These shortcomings are not the case with the Dashbot.
The Dashbot sports a pretty decent sound setup using 32 bit DSP, a Hi-Fi mic array and adaptive background noise suppression to ensure it can hear you clearly. Mostly, it is designed to be in the car where noise pollution is typically very high. This setup also allows you to be heard over top of playing music as well.
What else makes the Dashbot a perfect car companion rather? As per its creators, not only is it hands free, it is screen free [sort of]. It does have a screen, but not in the traditional sense. It is a simple LED style panel, similar to a piece of tech seen in the 80s or 90s, using visual cues to guide you along. An example, during navigation, it will form a left arrow on the LED array to direct you to make a left-hand turn. The absence of a traditional screen lends well to its goal of being a 100% hands-free solution well in the car.
As mentioned above, one of the many things Dashbot can do for you is play music. With "built in support for your playlists, podcasts, and favourite streaming services. With a simple request, Dashbot's AI will search multiple services to find what you want to hear." Here are some of the audio services that Dashbot's AI ties into. Since Dashbot will have an open API, developers will be able to link in support for their services as well.
The Dashbot is shaping up to be a cool and useful piece of tech for the car. Something that probably should have been on the GadgetSyrup Travel Tech list posted recently.
You can upgrade your Dashbot with another cool feature I think is worth mentioning.
The Dashbot expansion pack comes with an ODB-II connector which will give you some insights as to what is going on under the hood of your vehicle. Say for example the dreaded check engine light comes on while driving. Ask Dashbot what is going on and by reading the ODB-II code that is generated by the vehicle's computer Dashbot will tell you what the code is and what it means.
The ODB-II port on your car does more than let you understand codes generated when the check engine light is on. It can also tell you your fuel efficiency, vehicle speed, temperature and more. I'm not sure if it can provide the level of insight that a product such as the "Automatic PRO" ODB-II device provides, but it is certainly a nice addition and only bumps up the cost by $15.