Imagine talking with your car about what’s in the fridge at home while you do your driving. That sort of thing will soon be possible thanks to the integration of voice assistants such as Alexa with new vehicles.
The automotive group BMW and Amazon announced on 27 September that they will integrate Alexa, the well-known voice assistant of Amazon, on some of their new BMW and MINI vehicles starting in 2018. The first customers will be the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. With technology like this it is typically only a matter of time before the flow on hits Australian shores.
How will Alexa work in cars?
With the integration of Alexa, microphones will be placed inside some new BMW models in 2018. Alexa can help by way of voice command with playing your favorite songs, checking the weather forecast, ordering food and making phone calls through your hands free. You could even get your voice assistant to play trivia games with you as you drive. However, those tasks are only part of the story. With the voice assistant you will be able to control things inside your home that are connected to the application. Imagine heading home to have the lights and air con on and the oven pre-heating. These possibilities are very close.
Alternatively, you will be able to check things with the car from inside your home. Ask Alexa about your car’s fuel status or is it locked and get an answer straight away. Alexa will also be able to help you calculate the most appropriate route to reach your destination taking into account traffic incidents or other usually unforeseen short term changes to a route. This will make it the best and most multi-faceted co-pilot currently integrated with mainstream vehicles.
The two companies had already worked together previously, with BMW making it possible to integrate an Alexa device in its cars in 2017. Now additional devices are no longer required as the built in features will let car owners use Alexa from their cars without buying add-ons.
In a statement about the partnership, Ned Curic, vice president of Alexa Automotive said “we are excited to work with BMW to bring the Alexa experience to their drivers” confirming that “voice is a big part of the future, especially in cars. Using your voice to enjoy content and interact with your car makes a great driving experience even better”.
Amazon & Alexa in Australian Cars
Alexa is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon so the introduction of Alexa in BMW allows Amazon to start gaining a footing with traditional automakers.
And with Amazon soon to launch in Australia you can be sure voice assistants in Australian vehicles will be on their radar. Alexa is a major competitor of Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto so it will be interesting to watch the competition play out as these companies look to form partnerships with car manufacturers.
Alexa will arrive in some international models in 2018, starting in the middle of the year.
Expect something similar in Australia in the not too distant future.
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