Retail and technology giant Amazon has recently announced its initiative to allow automakers and other manufacturers to create custom voice assistants. According to a press release, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will be the first to use Alexa Custom Assistant, relying on Amazon-built speech recognition and other software, to power the automaker’s in-car tools. Amazon has also invited other companies to customize the underlying Alexa system with their own word, voice, and unique capabilities.
This feature will be somewhat similar to Google’s stock Android. It allows companies to layer their own UI on top of Android, giving users the best of both worlds. Amazon has said that the service will also have ‘voice science experts’ for custom voices and such.
Also Read: Amazon To Launch Luxury Platform
Although Alexa is mostly associated with Echo smart speakers, Amazon has been working to extend the software’s reach, and by adding utility for tasks like home automation and the potentially lucrative and fiercely contested market for in-car software, it aims to fend off rivals like Apple and Alphabet’s Google.
Amazon, which lacks the massive base of captive smartphone users of its main rivals, has suggested voice assistants should be able to talk to one another. The company, like competitors, already offers for rent elements of the technology that powers its digital assistant, but Alexa Custom Assistant represents a more complete set of tools, Amazon said.
Previously, Fiat Chrysler models owners who wanted to roll their windows down or inquire about the weather at their destination had to either speak to a custom-built voice software by pressing a button on the steering wheel, or invoke Alexa by voice. The new arrangement aims to integrate all of these in-car functions with the rest of Amazon’s web of data.
Amazon and Fiat Chrysler have declined to comment on the terms of the deal, but an Amazon spokeswoman said that under the new arrangement, Amazon will manage voice data for users who choose to sign in with an Amazon account, sharing with Fiat Chrysler only the intent of a user’s action.
Automakers “are starting to say the capabilities are so compelling that it’s hard to say no entirely,” said Matt Arcaro, who tracks automotive technology use for researcher IDC. “The multiassistant vehicle is the goal right now, and I don’t think there is a lot of cooperation between Google and Alexa in working together.”