Amazon has introduced a new Alexa Custom Assistant in markets across the world, including India, aimed at helping carmakers develop in-car AI-based voice assistants without the need for significant investment. The Alexa Custom Assistant packs in all the capabilities of the regular Alexa voice assistant but can be customised by carmakers to provide unique features, along with accepting brand-specific commands.
- New voice assistant system can be programmed to work with unique commands
- Carmakers also able to program in unique voice and features into system
- Will offer seamless Alexa integration including in-car Alexa access
Alexa Custom Assistant: What is it?
As mentioned previously, the Alexa Custom Assistant is essentially Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant but customisable so that it can be programmed to accept unique commands. The system comes packed with all the capabilities of the regular Alexa voice assistant – such as local search, weather, traffic, etc. – but can be customised to run a different voice and wake up to a brand-unique command. Amazon also says that carmakers can program in bespoke capabilities into the assistant to create “unique capabilities that delight their customers”.
The system also gets seamless Alexa integration meaning that the brand’s voice assistant collaborates with the Alexa voice assistant to provide in-car services as well as connectivity with connected Alexa devices outside of the car. Owners can issue commands to both Alexa and the brand’s voice assistant within the car, with each rousing the other should it be required. This means that you can, at the issue of a command, order groceries from Amazon or open an audio book on Amazon’s Audible platform inside the car and send messages to paired Echo devices, aside from commands for driving and in-car functions.
Currently Alexa integration in vehicles in India is still a rather new concept with few carmakers offering the connectivity function. Compared to the full-blown in-car voice assistant spoken of above, the current Alexa support capability is to the extent of issuing commands via the Alexa app or Echo device to activate functions such as the air-conditioning, opening windows, starting the engine, check fuel level etc. Some of the notable cars to currently offer Alexa support are the fifth-gen Honda City, the recently updated Mercedes GLC and the Jeep Compass facelift.
What does it mean for carmakers?
Simply put, the new Alexa Custom Assistant should allow carmakers to introduce their own in-car voice assistants at a faster pace as compared to developing the system from scratch. This should prove to be a more cost effective route as well with development costs expected to be much lower.
Who is the first customer?
Amazon has revealed that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the brand’s first customer for the Alexa Custom Assistant though it’s is not known which brands or models under FCA will use the system. In India, FCA retails models under the Jeep brand, so we could likely see the system in some of its future models.