From print to voice and beyond: How Toyota is transforming the car manual
Over the decades, technology has helped us organize large amounts of physical information in ways that are streamlined, efficient, and easily accessible. Rows upon rows of encyclopedias are no longer needed; simply punch in or speak a query into Google Search and find numerous results at your fingertips. There’s no need to haul around cases of CDs or cassettes either, when you can access hundreds of thousands of songs on music streaming services.
We wanted to bring that same level of accessibility to one specific type of publication: the printed car manual. Here’s how we shifted the paper manual to become an easy-to-access, voice-activated digital experience for owners of the all-new Sienna. It’s helped this resource become just as modern and useful as Toyotas themselves.
Putting cloud technology in the driver's seat
- An easily accessible virtual voice through the Toyota Driver’s Companion lets app users ask personal questions about their 2021 Sienna such as “what’s the height of my car?” and receive immediate answers either by voice, display or interactive input.
- The manual automatically connects with the purchased vehicle’s VIN number to create a completely personalized experience, curated specifically for the driver. For example, if an unfamiliar light on the dashboard pops up, the Toyota Driver's Companion can help identify the light’s meaning.
- Interactive hotspots throughout the vehicle’s interior let drivers explore the cabin virtually. Drivers can discover button functionalities, find specific dials, and learn more about car functions, such as how to slide seats or open doors, to become acclimated with their new vehicle.
- APIs powered by Google Cloud artificial intelligence technology make accessing specific vehicle information easy and effortless, by leveraging Google’s natural language processing:
- Google Cloud DialogFlow API serves as the decision tree that gives intelligence for both finding an answer for a question, i.e., how the Companion responds to the end user’s questions.
- One of our Text-to-Speech APIs—called Wavenet—creates the Companion’s realistic voice.
- And finally, our Speech-to-Text API “listens” to the user's voice and finds the correct information to craft responses. That means a driver can ask a question multiple ways, and the Companion will still respond with the right answer.