Millions of consumers who enjoy utilizing Alexa — Amazon’s cloud-based voice service — on their handheld devices or a standalone unit may soon have the same technology in their cars. Ford Motor Co. and the e-commerce and cloud computing company have announced a collaboration that will integrate this capability to Ford vehicles later this month.
“We’re excited to work with Ford to enhance the driver experience both inside and outside of the vehicle,” says Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa. “We believe voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, access entertainment, manage to-do lists, and more makes for an extraordinary driving experience. We can’t wait for Ford customers to try this out.”
The most comprehensive voice technology to equip a vehicle, Alexa will allow drivers to order items from Amazon, play and resume audiobooks, and search for and transfer local destinations to the in-car navigation system via a voice command. Experts from both companies agree that the hands-free nature of voice technology can benefit both driver safety and convenience.
The first roll out of Alexa integration will be available this month, connecting the driver to their car via Alexa devices such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap. Drivers will be able to start their vehicles remotely, and manage smart home features such as lighting, heat, and security systems from on the road using voice-activated technology.
The second wave, expected this summer, will incorporate a broader set of Alexa skills, including reading weather reports, playing music, checking news, adding items to shopping lists, and more. Because all the tasks will be completed vocally, experts hope drivers’ eyes will remain on the road and hands can stay on the wheel.
Ford also made several other announcements at this week’s 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, centered around the capability of its new Ford SYNC technology, which links apps from drivers’ smartphones to their cars. This includes the new DriverScore app, which allows Ford drivers with smartphones to earn good driving discounts on auto insurance, a partnership with Exxon Mobil that will allow drivers to pay for gas through another application, and a smartphone-to-dash projection for navigation apps.