Kakao is putting speech recognition tech into cars from Hyundai and Kia

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Less than a month after announcing plans to spin out its transportation and mobility business, Korean tech firm Kakao has inked deals to put hands-free systems inside cars from Korea’s second largest automotive firm Hyundai and its Kia affiliate.

Kakao is best known for operating Korea’s top messaging app, Kakao Talk, which is installed on over 95 percent of the country’s smartphones. But it has branched out into other verticals beyond chat, AI being one of them.

‘Kakao I’ — the firm’s AI tech — will be integrated in select cars from Hyundai and Kia starting from September with the initial goal of offering in-car speech recognition technology. Both auto firms have helped develop the service, which includes ‘One Shot,’ a hands-free feature that lets drivers search for information, such as restaurants, service stations and more using their voice.

Beyond that, Kakao I features support for speech and image recognition, text-to-speech, natural language processing, image recognition and chatbots, the company said. Kakao plans to open the platform up to third-parties, potentially bringing more services and features to drivers inside the comfort of their car.

Kakao said it had begun developing self-driving car technology back in September, but these partnerships are not related to that push.

Hyundai has been one of the early movers on self-driving cars, in fact it was first to get a license in Korea, beating even Samsung. The firm debuted its prototypes in December, going on to launch its semi-driving features earlier than originally scheduled.

Featured Image: DennisM2/Flickr (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)