Automotive Voice Design – Shyamala Prayaga, Ford Motor – Voice Tech Podcast ep.052

Shyamala Prayaga Ford

Episode description

Today on the show we welcome Shyamala Prayaga, the product owner for the Autonomous Digital Assistant at Ford Motor. In this episode, listeners will gain some insight into where voice tech is heading from the auto manufacturer’s point of view.

Shyamala will share about her background in design and why she moved into the voice field, and then she outlines some of the major use cases for voice in the car and the current challenges with the implementation of voice. She discusses the factors to consider when designing for car voice assistants, introduces us to the idea of full-size remote-controlled cars that operate through teleoperation, and gives her take on integrating with parties versus developing your own assistant from scratch.

Tuning into this episode, you will also learn more about biometric identification, data privacy and security, and much more. Shyamala has also launched a new book called Emotionally Engaged Digital Assistant, so be sure to check that out!


  • How a background in civil engineering and architecture led Shyamala to the tech space.
  • The importance of having a passion for technology and innovation when you work in this field.
  • Getting into voice technology by developing a shopping app for an Amazon hackathon.
  • The elements that are often missing in the dialog between users and voice assistants.
  • Why the personality of a chatbot or voice assistant should not be the only priority.
  • The problem of surrounding noise in a car and how it negatively impacts voice recognition.
  • How voice assistants are designed to cope with multiple passengers and voices in a car.
  • Possible solutions for recognition problems, including push-to-talk and wake words.
  • The auto manufacturers that are leading in the space right now.
  • Experimenting with the vehicle capabilities that might be enabled through voice.
  • Collecting data from passengers and how it might be used.
  • The lack of different profile options to accommodate different drivers/users.
  • Why car manufacturers are so eager to include voice assistants in cars.
  • How voice assistants might solve the problem of not knowing the function of various buttons.
  • Dos and don’ts for designing voice interfaces for the car.
  • Why personality is important and how it influences the user experience.
  • Striking a balance between having enough, yet not too many, sensors.
  • Augmented reality and being careful not to overload users with too much information.
  • The many unexpected problems that may arise with the use of fully autonomous cars.
  • Authentication and the need for the car and rider to be able to correctly identify each other.

Quotes from the show

[0:08:55] Most bots are branded as dumb even though they have a personality

[0:29:33] If you don’t see the value using voice, you should not use it

[0:33:06] The moment you start talking with any bot there is a connection

Links from the show

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