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Where AI would work – recommending music in a car

January 21st, 2017 | by Alfred Siew
Where AI would work – recommending music in a car

AM/FM/8-track stereo audio unit in the instrument panel of a 1978 AMC Matador four-door sedan. PHOTO: CZmarlin via Creative Commons

How many times have you driven home after a long day and wished the radio station played your favourite song? You know, instead of overly produced stuff that come on too often these days.

Sure, you have thousands of songs stored in a memory card that you can access too, but scrolling through the lists upon lists while driving? Not a safe thing to do while on a busy road.

Here’s where artificial intelligence (AI) can come in. You already get something similar with Spotify, which recommends music you might like and helps you discover new songs based on your listening patterns.

Can there be a similar assistant in a car that plays your kind of music automatically, based on what you usually search for or play back on your music library? This could be a nifty feature that could fire up when you start the engine.

Powered by a piece of software installed alongside your car’s existing music application, it could be set to run on the vehicle’s entertainment system.

Indeed, with all the information on your driving patterns – long jams at the end of the day, say – the music can even be customised to your moods. Perhaps something more relaxing in the evening, but tracks that are more upbeat in the morning as you try to beat the morning rush hour.

The same can be offered for different drivers of a car. Today, unlocking a car with a different car key already lets you in on a different pre-stored seat position, so why not the type of music on the go?

Considering how much Google knows about where you’ve been to, if you’ve turned on the location option, there’s a lot to be gleaned about where and how you travel.

The AI for music, of course, could do more than music. It can recommend routes and advise on ETA (estimated time of arrival), much like how Google does now.

Will car manufacturers work with Google to get this into cars sooner? Or can they come up with something themselves, seeing how they could end up being makers of dumb cars needing the smarts that Google provides in future?

Perhaps music could be a starting point for these manufacturers, which are understandably slow to take up new technologies because of overriding concerns in safety and reliability. A phone can crash and reset, but not a car.

Today, the phone has become the smart engine that many drivers rely on for navigation and plays back music – via Bluetooth – in cars that don’t come with the features.

As car makers install smarter features in their vehicles, a smart AI that automatically plays back your customised playlist should be a feature to include. It’s not just a fancy selling point, but something that makes a real difference to the driving experience.

Okay, cars may be driverless in future, so your hands are free to pick and choose your music, but that’s not the point. A premium car should be defined by how well it knows its driver.

What other way to show this than to automatically surround him with his favourite music before he even needs to lift a finger to look for it?

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