20 January 2017
It seems that everyone is interested in smart (or smarter) cars all of a sudden. From more integrated software (Skype in Volvo cars) and smart driving assists to protect you on the road as with Tesla's autopilot), to completely autonomous cars, the global interest in making cars smarter has been perked up and car makers are very actively trying to get ahead of each other. Volkswagen is one such company that intends to bring a personal assistant (Amazon's Alexa) to their vehicles.
Amazon's Alexa has gained major popularity over the last few months. It was limited to wireless speakers at first, but is now being integrated into smartphones (Huawei Mate 9) as well as cars. Yesterday at the CES, Ford announced their own cars bringing Amazon Alexa integration.
Alexa is an entertainment system rather than a driver assistant. It will allows drivers to easily do certain tasks such as play music, set reminders, and even control smart devices at their home. If needed, replacement parts for the car can also be ordered right through Amazon. All is done through the tap-to-talk interface within the head unit.
Just as drivers will be able to control smart home devices while in the car, they will also be able to check up on their Alexa-enabled car from inside their living room using any Alexa device (Echo, Echo Dot, Mate 9, etc). They can check fuel levels, send directions, order replacement parts, and so on.
Amazon's smart assistant seems to be catching on really fast. The Echo and Echo Dot were the most popular sale item over the holidays, and now right after that, the CES 2017 has shown two major car manufacturers interested in Alexa. In comparison, Google only has one company, Hyundai, to integrate Google Assistant to their cars.