Audi | Voice Assistant

Strategic Foundations and Prototyping a Future Vision for Audi’s Voice Assistant

Digital voice assistants have become an essential part of our everyday lives. We increasingly use them to control devices, especially in the areas of entertainment and smart homes. But how do things look in our vehicles? While the use of voice-controlled assistants is not new, it remained unsatisfactory for a long time. The possibilities for commands were too limited, the analyses of user behavior too slow, and their understanding too inadequate. However, this is changing thanks to new technologies such as cloud access, natural language understanding (NLU) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Defining the Strategic Foundations

Audi was early to recognize the potential of these voice assistants: In 2018, we therefore supported Audi in the fundamental strategy process for developing a brand-specific voice assistant. To this end, we gathered a multidisciplinary team of business and brand strategists, designers from various divisions, and developers. In four joint workshops, we defined the most important parameters of the voice assistant, its personality and how it affects voice, speech style, sound, behavior and screen content on the man-machine interface (MMI).


Designing the User Experience

In 2019, we brought this vision to life with a finished prototype: Collaborating with the AI experts at paragon semvox and the software developers at iNTENCE, we primarily wanted to improve POI searches, i.e. those for places of interest to the user, with the help of a navigation system. We achieved this thanks to convincing, multimodal interactions based on AI algorithms. Thus, we were able to provide the perfect concierge experience that considers context and individual preferences automatically.

During the ride, interactions will primarily take place via voice in the future, so we developed dialogs, sounds, and screen content for various use cases. These scenarios ranged from querying a user's basic preferences to active POI suggestions by the voice assistant to joint POI searches with another person. Together with a script writer, we eventually created dialogs that included the voice assistant's personality and a range of situations. We had these recorded by a professional speaker whose voice pitch and intonation were an ideal fit for the project.

In order to include the visual as well, we also developed a concept for displaying the voice assistant in the vehicle using screen animations and ambient light.


Ready for the Future

The final result of the collective work was a true-to-detail multimodal prototype, which was piloted at an internal Audi innovation event in October 2019 and whose user experience will hopefully be experienced in series production in the near to medium future.

Even more Audi

Do you like it to be more personal? How about learning more about the development of a future-oriented brand personality for Audi?