With the launch of their cutting-edge Blue Link connectivity system in the Venue, Hyundai is redefining the meaning of a connected car. We speak with Jack Joseph, AGM, Infotainment Development Department, Hyundai Motor India Engineering, about its functionality.
What’s the aim of the Blue Link connectivity system?
Hyundai has always worked to bring the latest technology to the market, with an extra emphasis on safety and security. With smartphone sales in India going through the roof, it’s clear that people are interested in the latest technologies. And we wanted to offer a connected environment in our cars to ensure that the latest technologies are seamlessly integrated into our products and are available for our customers.
Which Blue Link features are most relevant for India?
For the past two years, we’ve been researching features that would be most suitable for the Indian market. Since Blue Link has existed in other markets for some time now, there was already a feature list that we could bank on. The question, however, was – which amongst those could be of use in India. And that was what we brainstormed on. As I mentioned, there are 10 features in Blue Link that are exclusive to India. For instance, if the car is chauffeur driven, you can remotely monitor if the car is idling with its air conditioning on, allowing you to avoid unnecessary fuel wastage. Secondly, we focused on women drivers and their security. As a result, we added a panic button to the key fob. Let’s say, a woman is walking towards her car at night and encounters an alarming situation, well, she can press the panic button and alert other people around her. In a sense, our primary concern was to enhance the safety and security of our customers and redefine the ownership experience – apart from creating a truly connected car, of course.
What did you have to do to tune the Blue Link system for India – you mentioned that the voice recognition system has been specifically tuned to understand Indian accents, for instance?
Servers, as per the government norms, have to be located in India, so that’s something we took care of. But, yes, it’s a very big challenge to develop a server-based voice recognition system tuned for different accents. The interesting fact, however, is that we had to move to natural language understanding to make it interesting to use. To make the system more user-friendly and natural, we didn’t want to use specifically defined commands. For example, I shouldn’t have to say only ‘Call Ishan’ for the Bluetooth system to work. It should understand even if I say something more natural like ‘I’d like to talk to Ishan.’ We worked with SoundHound to develop this, and we gave them enough Indian phonetic data, which helped them understand the difference in the speech and accents of people from various regions in India. And that’s what we used to teach the Artificial Intelligence (AI) component of Blue Link, and the interesting thing is that its AI keeps on learning and improving with time.
Since technology today develops at a very fast rate, will you upgrade the Blue Link system regularly via over-the-air updates?
The firmware update of the system will not be online, it’ll be available only through a service centre as of now. But features of the system, like Live POI search, live traffic updates, voice recognition, etc., will be continuously updated at the server end to improve their functionality.
An interesting technology that Hyundai has started offering globally is fingerprint recognition to lock and unlock your car. Do you think we could see that make its debut in India soon?
You see, it’s all about the cost of the technology – and I think that if the Marketing team plans to introduce this feature in India in more premium products, it’s certainly possible. From a technology point of view, it’s not an issue at all. But it’s for the Marketing and Product Planning division to take a call on whether it should be introduced in the market or not.