Garmin has pre-announced a new automotive infotainment solution that integrates Alexa into the in-car experience. The solution will be demonstrated at CES. Garmin has not yet identified which car models will be first to incorporate the new solution. It integrates GPS navigation, AccuWeather and FourSquare into the in-dash services and Alexa integration is prominently highlighted. The announcement suggests full Alexa functionality and multi-modal engagement.
The Garmin scalable infotainment platform takes Alexa integration in the vehicle to a new level. Alexa works directly with the on-board navigation and media player software established by Garmin – which means no smartphones or apps required. Consumers can easily select their destination with the Alexa hands-free voice service and then have it automatically synced to turn-by-turn navigation from Garmin. What’s more, consumers can ask Alexa questions and receive both audio and on-screen responses; play music through the head unit’s media player; control home automation while traveling on the road; and access hundreds of other Alexa skills from the vehicle’s head unit.
Putting Alexa in the Car Dashboard
Many automotive brands have announced Alexa skills that enable features such as reviewing the fuel level, unlocking the car and other non-driving activities. Ford has brought Alexa integration to its Sync platform and both BMW and SEAT plan to add the voice assistant in some 2018 models. Each of these will integrate Alexa access into the driving experience.
This is good news for Amazon’s strategy to proliferate Alexa access beyond the home. However, Android Auto is available today in over 400 car models and should provide a relatively straightforward onramp to bringing Google Assistant into the car. Apply CarPlay has embedded Siri in over 200 car models. Amazon has a lot of ground to make up and Garmin could be a strong partner to help accelerate the process. Infotainment systems are decided years in advance of new car launches. Amazon can shorten its time to automotive presence by integrating into infotainment systems, like Garmin’s, that have already been chosen for new auto models.
Alexa Integration Shown Only Briefly in Promotional Video
Below is the product sizzle reel video. The Alexa piece is not audible over the music soundtrack and is only shown briefly. It appears to be always listening and does not require push-button activation. Voicebot has contacted Garmin seeking clarification on this point.
This is Not Garmin’s First Alexa Solution for the Car
Voicebot readers will recognize that this is not Garmin’s first effort to bring Alexa into the driving environment. In October 2017, the company released the Garmin Speak. It is a GPS-enabled navigation system that users can access via Alexa and resembles and Echo Dot with a screen for the car. Amazon’s partnering approach may turn out to be the critical strategy in helping Alexa access reach ubiquity. Expect to see more announcements like this next week at CES.