SoundReply

As many of you may already know, here at HIGH MOBILITY we’re mid-way through the Porsche NEXT OI Competition — a unique opportunity for developers to build and test apps for connected Porsche sportscars with the chance of winning prizes of up to €100,000 .

To give you a deeper insight into the work processes, strategies and projects of the different teams and individuals taking part, we’re running a blog series of in-depth interviews with some of the developers and teams taking part.

In today’s post we’re talking to Andreas Kwiatkowski and Farhoud Cheraghi from SoundReply, a startup which designs, develops and maintains software for mission-critical human-machine interaction (HMI), both on the ground and in the air.

With its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, the company was founded to develop a fail-safe, primarily voice-based assistant, with the ultimate goal of building a human-level AI copilot for aerospace.

If you feel inspired by SoundReply’s Porsche NEXT OI project, there’s still time to register and take part in the competition yourself! Simply head over to the Porsche NEXT OI Competition site and sign up now.

What made you want to take part in the competition?

Competitions like the Porsche NEXT OI Competition can bring together unconventional but highly driven teams from around the world who want to make things happen, irrespective of the industry experience they may have.

Although our team does not yet have a track record for building software for cars, we believe we can put our passion for high-quality and user-friendly software development to work in helping Porsche and the automotive industry at large take the lead in world-class software and digital user experiences in and outside of the car. These elements will work seamlessly with the finest mechanical engineering in the world and deliver outstanding driving experiences on and off the race track.

Tell us about your application idea

We plan to bring natural speech-based interaction to vehicles both on the road and beyond. This technology could be used in your future self-driving Cayenne during daily commutes to the office, or in a sporty Cayman you enjoy pushing to its limits.

We believe that once Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and other voice assistants have paved the way into a Star Trek-like “Computer, …” era, everyone will demand human-like interaction with machines everywhere — even onboard a 911 GT3 RS drifting high-speed on the Nürburgring. On top of the obvious voice control for infotainment purposes, how about learning how to become a better driver from a well-trained AI that is always there when you need it?

Which apps do you personally find particularly inspiring?

We love apps that are pushing the boundaries of what we commonly see, even as early adopters. Both in terms of user experience and the customer value delivered. Every now and then a new milestone is set — apps or software in general that become a new benchmark for the whole industry.

Recently, advancements in AI like deep learning have made some experiences we have with software more personalized, intuitive and thus more helpful.

Compare a continuously improving Amazon Echo that turns your smart home lights on and off the minute after unboxing after your first attempt at speech recognition with Dragon NaturallySpeaking in the late 90s — a Windows 95 software that came on a CD — which needed lots of individual training, but already felt outdated even before you gave it a try.

What’s your experience of developing apps for connected cars?

Aside from once building a set of standalone OEM-branded apps that were streaming music and media coverage to mobile phones without directly being connected with a car, we didn’t have have any previous experience developing apps for connected cars. We are really just getting started.

How are you managing your project for the competition? E.g: Are you working alone, as a team etc?

Currently, we are working together as a team of two plus another team member who will be joining in April. We have been planning our project in Trello and are now tackling written user stories in a Kanban setup. While I am more focused on the product and its user experience, Farhoud is more drawn towards the technological questions. Once arrived, Giulio will focus on software development too.

What has been your biggest challenge since starting the competition?

First of all, finding a niche and idea worth pursuing was our biggest challenge. Both Porsche and the German automotive industry have made strides towards establishing digital units and projects in and outside their core organisations. Beyond digital labs and startup investments that will pay off in the long-term, many ideas have already been thought through and put out there — and if not, then it’s for a reason! Secondly, finding the time to build a first-class “Porsche-style” experience and working on our contest submission while still maintaining our regular business has been challenging.

Which aspects of taking part in the competition have been the most enjoyable so far?

While rooted in tradition, Porsche is building fascinating cars that set benchmarks worldwide. It’s exciting and awe-inspiring to get a chance to suggest and potentially contribute code to a masterpiece of engineering tradition like a 911 or the upcoming Mission E.

If you could give one piece of advice for other developers taking part what would it be?

We believe strongly in specialisation since only those who specialise can become the true experts in their field. Given the time constraint of this competition we would rather try to nail a single feature perfectly than attempt many which then don’t come up to scratch.

Has the team from SoundReply peaked your interest in taking part in the Porsche NEXT OI Competition? If so, make sure to head over to the competition site for all the details you need to join this innovative and exciting development challenge.

Next week we’ll have another interview for you from a team taking part, so until then happy developing!