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Toyota teams up with Microsoft to bring voice recognition to cars

It's the biggest arrangement Microsoft's reached with an automaker to date.


Toyota owes Microsoft a big ol' "thank you" when it comes to the future of the automaker's connected cars.

Microsoft will license a good deal of its connected car patents to Toyota, Automotive News reports. Toyota will have access to a number of intellectual properties covering operating systems, voice recognition, artificial intelligence and gesture control. It has not been disclosed how much money Toyota paid for this access, but it probably wasn't cheap.

If Toyota's connected cars take off in a big way, it should send a fruit basket or something to Redmond.

Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

This isn't the first time Microsoft and Toyota have teamed up. The two are working together, and have been for the past year, on Toyota's data science center. Toyota Connected uses Microsoft's cloud computing platform to work on services that focus on individualizing customer experiences.

Don't expect Toyota to be the only one to benefit, though. It's not an exclusive agreement, so Microsoft is free to offer its technologies to other automakers. Not only will that benefit additional manufacturers, it also means more money for Microsoft. Talk about a win-win.

Microsoft, of course, is not in the business of manufacturing vehicles, and that's extremely unlikely to change. But it's a veritable powerhouse when it comes to developing intellectual property, and given the increasing computerization of the automotive industry, it makes sense for Microsoft to turn its attention to connected car technologies.

The tech giant is no stranger to working with automakers other than Toyota. Renault-Nissan is using Microsoft's Azure platform to flesh out its connected car services, including over-the-air updates. Volvo is working with Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality system to interact with virtual parts during development.