Sionic Mobile says “Speak & See” is a must for in-vehicle commerce

6 min readMar 3, 2020


Let’s begin the conversation by asking: “will consumers buy stuff from the comfort of their car?”

The short answer is yes. Why?

Many of us are spending more time behind the wheel as daily commutes get longer. This is creating a a captive audience of millions of consumers. TrueMotion reports the average consumer spends 72 minutes per day in their car. That’s a lot of time.

Sionic Mobile Speak & See

Consumers want to make the most of their drive times. It’s the single parent of three needing to pickup dinner on the way home and skipping the line at the restaurant. It’s the road warrior needing to fill up the gas tank when its cold or rainy.

Automakers want to provide their customers with a safe and convenient way to buy things. They also want to take part in the revenue created through in-vehicle sales. Merchants of all types want to reach commuters and convince them to stop by and spend their money with them. Sionic Mobile has created a solution to service both automakers and merchants.

ULink™ by Sionic Mobile

There are two aspects of in-vehicle shopping that can create a challenge. First, placing the order itself while keeping eyes on the road ahead. Second, paying without pulling out a wallet or purse. Both challenges have the potential to distract drivers. Sionic Mobile believes the only safe and secure way to buy things from inside the vehicle is by saying it. Then seeing it on the dashboard screen. This is a “Speak & See” interaction.

ULink, built with Visa, can connect merchants, consumers and their vehicles. Restaurants may allow access to their online ordering service. Gas stations may allow ULink to connect with their pumps. Parking lots may grant access to their reservation and on-demand parking systems. Altogether, ULink can provide merchants of all types an easy and safe way to reach commuters. Retailers keep their payment processors and are always the merchant of record.

Sionic Mobile ULink Technology

Easy Ordering from the Driver’s Seat

Many vehicles today offer voice help. Press a button and call someone from your connected phone. Have text messages read to you. Navigate to a destination. Automakers will soon offer enhanced voice assistants of their own or through partners. In case you missed the September 2019 announcement by General Motors and Google:

General Motors’ New In-Vehicle Technology Strengthens Connectivity Leadership and Enhances Customer Experience (Source: General Motors)

GM will be using Google Assistant, Navigation and Apps Ecosystem in many 2021 models. Powering the system is Android Automotive from Google. This is a version of the Android operating system for vehicles.

Sionic Mobile believes the GM-Google mashup will create a great “Speak & See” experience. “Hey Google, order food for takeout from Peppers Grill.” Google Maps may slide a small window showing the conversation. No touching the screen. No added distraction. Like changing the media station today.

Skip-the-line takeout by ULink

Easy Payments with Digital Wallets

What is a digital wallet? Most people think of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and others as digital wallets. Though correct, most payment cards on file with a merchant or service provider are too. Many websites allow visitors to pay using cards stored at Pay with Amazon is a digital wallet. Have a card on file with your favorite streaming media company? They have your digital wallet.

Digital wallets are critical to in-vehicle buying. Sionic Mobile believes there should never be an instance where a driver is looking at a credit card. Pay with Google? Yes. Pay with Apple? Yes.

Sionic Mobile Taps Retailers’ Digital Investments

Think of ULink as sitting in Google Cloud next to others’ digital platforms. That restaurant’s online or mobile order-ahead service was a big investment. It also forces customers to create an account or download another app for easy ordering. Some places also make customers enroll in their loyalty program. Good for the restaurant.

But what about those occasional customers? Food delivery services help consumers access many restaurants. They also force customers to create an account and store a card payment. ULink is great for giving occasional customers ordering access without another app. Restaurants and other retailers get more customers and regular customers get more benefits.

Merchants Tap More Consumers

GM is not the only automaker that will be using Android Automotive. Android Automotive is not the only automotive operating system. Almost every automaker has an in-vehicle commerce initiative underway today. Ask the industry experts at Visa IoT Connected Car and SiriusXM Connected Vehicle. Visa and SiriusXM announced an alliance at CES 2019:

Visa and SiriusXM team up to fast-track the future of in-vehicle commerce (Source: Visa)

SiriusXM works with a lot of automakers around the globe and has millions of customers of its own. Sionic Mobile believes those customers will also want to buy food and gas or pay to park. All using their digital wallets.

Pay at the Pump with ULink

Show Me The Money

Consumers have shown their willingness to pay a small convenience fee. According to a 2017 article by, consumers are willing to pay an average of 11%.

Consumers Will Pay for Convenience (Source:

Sionic Mobile believes consumers will pay a small service fee for in-vehicle purchases. What would you pay? 25 cents? 50 cents? The fee amount must match the level of convenience.

The Elephant in the Front Seat

Everyone wants to own the customer. Merchants. Automakers. Content providers. Everyone.

Sionic Mobile thinks consumers can have a buying relationship with more than one party at a time. Even at the same time. It boils down to one word: frequency. Ask yourself. How often do I buy or lease a vehicle? I still want my dealer to know me as a customer. How many trips to the gas station? I still want to save ten cents a gallon. Do I eat more burgers or pizza than I drink coffee? I still want access to specials and discounts.

So who owns my customer data? Everyone. Am I OK with that? Yes. Keep my location and payment information private and we’re all good here.

What About the Trial Lawyers?

That would be the other elephant. Driver distraction is a real thing. Many states have passed laws forcing hands-free operation of cell phones. Many more states have passed no texting laws. All to help reduce the number of distracted drivers.

In-vehicle buying experiences not using Speak & See have the potential to distract drivers. Imagine a driver tapping the dashboard screen to order a cup of coffee and running a red light. Or while driving at highway speeds, looking away from the road to order a pizza and side swiping an adjacent car.

Indemnification anyone?

Who will be liable for the result of distracted driving? Automakers? Merchants? Consumers’ Insurance Companies? Trial lawyers tend to go after those with the deepest pockets. Those with the weakest indemnification clauses in their contracts, lose.

The Future is Here Now

Voice Assistants from Google, Apple, Amazon and others have come a long way. Have your iPhone plugged into your car? Ask Siri to send a text. Have your Android phone connected? “Hey Google, find the closest parking lot.” Have an Echo Auto? Ask Alexa to order more laundry detergent.

Sionic Mobile expects Speak & See in-vehicle buying to become a reality in the not too distant future. It’s likely many automakers, restaurants, gas stations and parking providers will likely take part. Assuming success and consistent adoption, we will likely see in-vehicle, Speak & See purchasing commercialized and become fully mainstream.

The future is here now. Stay tuned.




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