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Nuance Opens European Drive Lab in Germany to Amplify Innovation for Mobility Assistants

Nuance Communications, Inc. announced the opening of its first European mobility user experience (UX) lab, the Design, Research, Innovation and Vehicle Experience (DRIVE) Lab, located in Saarbrücken, Germany at DFKI, one of the world’s largest AI research centers. The DRIVE Lab will study and drive innovation round mobility user experience, including the intersection of conversational artificial intelligence with non-verbal modalities such as gaze detection, emotional AI and augmented reality, with the goal of further humanizing the interaction between people and the digital ecosystem.

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In addition to Nuance’s DRIVE Labs in North America and China, the Germany-based DRIVE Lab will work closely with Nuance’s global automotive research and development team, and the joint testing facility with DFKI in Saarbrücken will further expand the two companies’ long-time research cooperation on next-generation mobility assistants. The research conducted at the DRIVE Lab will ultimately provide drivers and passengers with safer, smarter, and more immersive mobility experiences while supporting car manufacturers with AI powered solutions to create their own branded digital assistant and ecosystem.

Key areas of the new DRIVE Lab’s research will include:

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  • Humanized interactions in and outside the car – Test driver and passenger impressions on technologies driving more human-like experiences, including emotion recognition, which enables the mobility assistant to understand complex cognitive and emotional states from face and voice recognition and adapt behavior accordingly.
  • Unique experiences and technologies – Explore how new ideas for user experiences, including augmented reality, gesture- and gaze-based technologies, emotion AI and technologies like cognitive arbitration, siren detection, multi-seat interaction and autonomous features, improve the user experience.
  • Needs and preferences – Build an enhanced understanding of which experiences users truly want in the car and how those experiences might extend outside of the vehicle. Explore how safety, privacy, functionality, and regulatory requirements affect the use of technologies.
  • Consult car makers and suppliers – Conduct usability reviews of existing deployments as well as new concepts and prototypes and advise on user experience best practices, taking advantage of the Lab’s proximity to the headquarters of some of the world’s largest car makers.

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“We are very happy to welcome the Nuance DRIVE Lab at our AI research center. Nuance and DFKI have partnered for many years, and this hub will further foster our research partnership. The new auto testing facilities at DFKI will not only test new technologies, but further develop the conversational interface that enables a safer, smarter driving experience – even while keeping consumers connected to the world outside,” said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO of DFKI.

“As the digital car is becoming an integral element of our day-to-day lives and smart virtual assistants are becoming ever more prevalent, it’s important that we put a strategic focus on UX research to provide a truly immersive mobility assistant that users can trust.” said Nils Lenke, senior director of Innovation Management, Nuance Automotive. “Over the past year, our US-based DRIVE Lab conducted more 15 in-lab studies, and surveyed thousands of users online, delivering invaluable learnings about how drivers want to interact with their increasingly connected and autonomous cars. Our first DRIVE Lab site in Europe will be an additional center for research and testing around new concepts and prototypes for the next generation of automotive user experiences for our customers.”

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