Certain cars can already communicate with Alexa, but the control is simply OTA to an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot that happens to be at home. Inrix Inc., one of the world’s largest developers of connected car solutions, is hoping to change that with Alexa integration directly inside the dashboard.
In-car entertainment systems have already become a lot smarter thanks to the likes of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but Alexa integration takes it to a whole new level. Inrix’s vision will put Amazon’s AI directly in the passenger seat, with Alexa able to control the car’s audio system, give traffic updates, offer up parking suggestions and even notify users when they’re approaching an incident.
Inrix’s approach is to integrate Alexa with its OpenCar initiative, which is a direct competitor to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Unlike those systems however, OpenCar is available to automakers who want to make a unique infotainment system for their cars. That means manufacturers are able to change the UI, add features and make the system work exactly how they want it. It’s similar to BlackBerry’s QNX platform.
Despite having partnerships with the likes of Audi, BMW, Ford, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen, it’s not yet clear which manufacturer has utilised OpenCar for their infotainment system. Mazda was working with OpenCar prior Inrix’s acquisition, so it’s possible that is one manufacturer which will gain Alexa functionality. Inrix says that any car that does feature the software will automatically receive the functionality in the second half of 2017.
Alexa is continuing to dominate CES 2017 and it’s likely that the trend is going to continue.
“The ubiquity of mobile and cloud technology in our lives makes the integration with Amazon Alexa a key solution for people looking to maintain personalized and seamless connectivity throughout their daily lives,” says Joe Berry, vice president of OpenCar at Inrix.
“Innovative technology, like Amazon Alexa, enables OpenCar to meet the needs of automakers and deliver a next-gen experience for connected cars.”