Panasonic may have led their news conference announcing auto infotainment system integration with Amazon Alexa. However, the media event concluded with Google’s North America Head of Partner Engineering, Gene Karshenboyn. Mr. Karshenboyn is listed on LinkedIn as Partner Engineering – Android Auto. He and Panasonic North America Chairman and CEO Tom Gephardt showed a video demonstration of Google Assistant integration with Panasonic infotainment systems during their presentation.
The full video shows several in-car use cases including changing the climate control, bringing up Google maps and checking the traffic. It ends with a request to turn off the porch light at the person’s home. The use case highlighted that full Google Assistant will be available in car. It is not clear how they will handle multi-modal text response requirements for Google Assistant in an environment where you want to limit visual display. However, it shows that 2018 will clearly be the year voice assistants break out of the home and into our cars.
Google’s Android Auto Advantage
This demonstration was a perfect example of how Google’s Android platform delivers many dividends in proliferating Google Assistant across devices. Device and system makers have an incentive to integrate Alexa in the U.S. market because it is so popular. However, the incentive for integrating Android is even higher because of its global mobile phone dominance and most manufacturers already have the integration in place. If Android is present, then Google Assistant won’t be far behind. Amazon Alexa had a big head start, but Google’s many assets are helping it close the gap and take the lead in several areas. Automotive is sure to be one.