“Michael, I’m detecting elevated stress levels in your voice print. Is something going wrong?” is exactly the sort of line you’ll hear spoken by the fictional KITT in Knight Rider from time to time. And with a patent it just filed for an in-car system, Ford plans to release an in-car system that will behave as intelligently as KITT.
The patent is titled “Emotive text to speech system and method” and it’s designed to make an in-car system much smarter at understanding your voice commands–it sounds like an even smarter version of Mercedes’ Attention Assist package that’s due in cars soon. So when speaking a sentence like, “I feel like driving fast today” the in-car GPS will be prompted to ask you if it should route you along freeways by preference. In essence, the advanced system will enable you to interact with a car’s automated systems in a more “natural” way.
Also included in the patent is the concept that the car will be able to detect your emotional state–to a limited extent–react accordingly, and even emote right back at you. The system will include sensors that look at the driver’s body position, stress patterns in their voice, and other biometric markers, and if it concludes that the driver’s angry, for example, it may display “sympathy” with a graphical avatar that recolors itself blue and puts on a “concerned facial expression.” The ongoing conversation would be influenced by the perceived driver emotion, with the system perhaps understanding whether the driver is late for work and then offering to forward a message.