Hi Proton! How it works and what to expect in the future

By CARSIFU | 30 March 2020

SHAH ALAM: In December 2018, Malaysians were introduced to the Proton X70 sport utility vehicle with a system that came with a voice command function.

Dubbed the Global Key User Interface (GKUI), the system is able to detect and respond to the "Hi Proton" voice command which helps to improve safety by allowing drivers to keep their attention on the road ahead.

From that point, the user is able to speak various commands such as (but not limited to) navigation, weather, music and in-car control functions including climate controls as well as windows and sunroof operation.

The system was initially introduced in the Geely Bo Yue (2018) and was specially catered to the Chinese market and was subsequently localised for Malaysia.

In order to achieve this, a team comprising of developers from ECARX (the China-based company responsible for developing the original GKUI), local carmaker Proton and Altel - the company responsible for the layout of the required infrastructure for the system to function in Malaysia.

One of the first key tasks was to shift the language from Mandarin Chinese to English - the preferred language for the system, with around 200 Malaysians recording the simple phrase, of "Hi Proton" in their respective accents and dialects.

In the next stage, the same group of people were asked to record 32 barge-in commands – words and sentences that awaken the system before further commands could be issued.

Each participant was asked to record each command 10 times quickly and 10 times slowly to ensure the system was able to capture the words at varying degrees of speed and pronunciation.

While Ecarx supported such efforts technologically, Proton contributed by sharing their knowledge and experience of the local terrain and culture as well as helped facilitate the involvement and subsequent contributions of local mobile network providers Celcom and Maxis.

The collaboration saw a special e-SIM was co-developed to help facilitate the use of 4G-networks from within the vehicle which allows for a two-way conversation to ensue between the car and the user.

The respective data packages also allow the car to continuously feed users with the requested navigational information as well as an almost endless supply of music via Tencent Music.

The Future
At present, the local carmaker is currently looking to include Joox music into its GKUI and could be introduced in the near future.

Another possible inclusion is Astro Radio which allows users to tune into their preferred radio station via an app instead of having to search for the station's frequency.

Apart from that, the integration of e-wallet and cashless applications is currently being examined that would allow users access to their e-wallet balances and status via the head unit.