Image: Nuance Communications

Nuance Communications is planning to spin off its automotive business division and activities into an independent, publicly-traded automotive software company, Nuance Auto. The formation of this company and share transactions are expected to be completed by the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

Nuance specializes in conversational AI technologies, including personalized digital assistants. Its Dragon Drive automotive assistant platform supports natural language understanding and multimodal interactions [pictured] via gesture, touch, gaze detection, voice recognition and handwriting, in 40 languages; it already features in over 200 million cars on the road. Customers include Audi, BMW, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, GM, SAIC, Toyota, Geely and BYD, plus “virtually every major Tier One automotive supplier,” the company claims, and Nuance Auto technologies are fitted in over 50 million new cars each year.

Its services and products include Cognitive Arbitration, which enables the integration of a user’s preferred third-party AI; voice biometrics and multi-user integration; and functionalities for in-car office communications, vehicle control, and information on weather, sports, restaurants and more. AI enhances and personalizes alerts and guidance or suggestions on, for example, parking facilities, navigation, service and maintenance, in-car functionality and refuelling preferences or priorities.

Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin said in a statement: “We are incredibly proud of the Auto business we’ve built, and at the same time we recognize the growing excitement around automotive technology. We are excited to launch this business for long-term success by separating it into an independent, focused company.”

An independent management team and separate board of directors will be appointed and nominated, and Nuance expects to base Nuance Auto in Boston, USA with “a significant presence” in Montreal, Canada, and Aachen, Germany, among other locations.