Volkswagen has become the latest car manufacturer to announce Alexa integration. Does this mean we are entering a new motoring revolution?
Artificial intelligence has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, introducing a plethora of new possibilities for our domestic and working lives.
More recently, Amazon has been hogging the limelight with its new smart assistant Alexa, which can do anything from organize your calendar to play you music.
But now it’s set to revolutionize the world of motoring. In recent times, car manufacturers like Hyundai, Ford and Volkswagen have all announced plans to integrate the assistant into new car models.
While any type of Alexa AI integration will create a more immersive experience for drivers, Volkswagen is going a step further by making Alexa a main factory-installed feature in its future cars.
Whereas Hyundai and Ford will offer Alexa through the form of an app, VW has said it plans to integrate the smart assistant directly into the infotainment systems of its cars.
This demonstrates a clear interest in the technology from VW as a leading car manufacturer, and there’s no wonder why. Alexa will introduce a ton of new capabilities to drivers.
New experiences with Alexa
Using the feature, drivers will be able to control their connected home directly from their car. For instance, you’d be able to turn on the heating or boil the kettle before you get home from work.
VW has actually developed some keywords and commands to make using Alexa easier. You could, for instance, say “Hey Alexa, how much fuel is left in the tank?” to see if you need to fill up.
The company has previously confirmed that the integration will be available in all markets, but it hasn’t announced any concrete dates. It did, however, showcase how the tech would work in a Tiguan SUV at CES 2017.
There’s no doubt that we’ll see VW’s new Alexa-based infotainment system rolled out over the coming months, and Ford and Hyundai are both currently rolling out the service.
John Scumniotales, general manager for Amazon Alexa Automotive, told Automotive News: “Volkswagen and Amazon share a common vision around voice as the future, it’s a safe and natural way for us to interact with the vehicle.”
Paul Whitelam, Group VP at at ClickSoftware, said more and more motoring firms are looking to implement virtual assistants into their cars to improve user experience.
“At CES 2017, leading automotive brands also announced they are now embedding virtual assistants into their cars. In the context of field service, virtual assistants will be able to send automatic notifications to customers, providing useful updates when an engineer is stuck in traffic or otherwise delayed,” he said.
“Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, is already used in vehicles, but competitor virtual assistants (including Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa) are also beginning to take the tech market by storm.”
More personalized cars
John West, principle solutions architect at Nuance Communications, believes that artificial intelligence can help deliver more intuitive and personalized experiences for drivers.
“AI-powered connected car systems are taking app-powered infotainment systems to the next level by providing a more personalised experience for the driver,” he said.
“Learning from their past preferences – whether that’s related to music, parking or even the types of restaurants they prefer – the system is able to provide a tailored experience to each driver.
“For instance, if a driver always chooses car parks which have disabled parking spaces or take American Express, when guiding the driver to their destination the in-virtual assistant can take them directly to car parks which can accommodate those preferences.
“Or, if the driver asks the car infotainment system to ‘play something that makes me happy’, it will chose from the drivers’ previous music choices to pick music to fit their command.”