Nuance's Dragon Drive car software now knows who you are

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LAS VEGAS—Don’t blame Nuance’s Dragon Drive software for not knowing who you are. It's installed in over 100 million cars...and that's a lot of humans to differentiate. But now it does—and it talks to your smartphone, too.

Nuance said Tuesday that its Dragon Drive software now can be programmed to recognize your voice, provided you identify yourself with a keyphrase when you enter the vehicle. In much the same way you can program seat heights and mirror angles on some cars, Nuance will now tailor connected music stations, navigation routes, traffic conditions, calendar, parking, fuel options along the route, and much more depending on what preferences you’ve expressed previously.

And similar to the way Microsoft’s Cortana gives you tailored news updates every time you access the digital assistant, so will Nuance. The Dragon Drive Daily Update will deliver you your calendar updates, as well as to up-to-the-minute news headlines, traffic, weather, and sports scores. The software will read out the information to you when you enter the car, and provide you an estimated time to your destination based on traffic and road conditions.

Even better, the Nuance software now talks to your smartphone. In its presentation on Monday, LG executives talked about their HomeChat software eventually being able to connect the home to your car, with the smartphone serving as a bridge. For Nuance, that time is now. The Dragon Drive Mobile app for iOS and Android allows you to interact with the car while in a remote location, where they can set their music preferences,and navigation and POI information. It can’t unlock or remotely start the car, though.

“We’re giving automakers more control over the connected car system they build and deliver, while giving consumers more control over their individual experience within that brand,” said Arnd Weil, vice president and general manager, Nuance Automotive, in a statement. “Our platform is open, flexible, and delivers content from the world’s leading content providers.”

Why this matters: Nuance has always positioned itself as the relative unknown in the digital assistant competition, alongside Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now, and Apple’s Siri. But while Google and Apple try to push into the car, Nuance is already there. The question is whether it can hold its spot. 

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