Busy biometric startup Cerence books three big car deals, launches services in March

Busy biometric startup Cerence books 3 big car deals, launches services in March

March has been good for newly spun-off Cerence Inc., the artificial intelligence interface company sealed its largest biometrics contract ever, booked two other significant customer wins and launched new quality-control services for carmakers.

Cerence was calved last October from Nuance Communications Inc., the world’s biggest voice recognition company, when the parent company divested its automotive group. Cerence systems enable drivers to use their voice, a touch or gesture, or even a gaze to control car functions.

Company executives said they had inked a global biometrics contract valued at $125 million, but would only say its customer was a “large European car manufacturer.” Cerence will provide its artificial intelligence-backed voice-assistant product.

For a change of pace, Cerence announced two other customer wins, naming the automakers but not the size of the deals.

In one, the company said China-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. would use a software developer’s kit that it had created expressly for Chinese automakers. Geely, as the company is known, owns one of China’s largest privately owned car makers, Geely Automotive, which, in turn, owns Volvo Cars.

Cerence executives said Geely will use their turnkey , artificial intelligence reference kit, or ARK, to develop, deploy and manage a voice assistant that operates within a car, without an external link.

The Volvo connection is not an aside. It gives Geely a foothold in Europe, a strong market for AI-dappled luxury car brands.

Also in Europe, Cerence executives said Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will use its voice-recognition system, Drive, in Fiat Chrysler’s new Uconnect 5, an Android-based infotainment system.

Uconnect 5 will be installed in all new Fiat Chrysler vehicles, waking when a car’s occupant says “hey” and the make’s name.

Cerence also debuted an evaluation and validation package called UX Services. It is designed to give automakers a richer understanding of how effectively Cerence systems are addressing tasks, and how satisfied occupants of cars are with the systems. Voice, touch and other biometric components can be analyzed.

The company had enabled voice controls in nearly 325 million vehicles when it rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq exchange in February.

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