Amazon’s VP of its voice assistant product Alexa Automotive has said that the in-car customer experience has to change and that the industry is going through a massive transformation.
Ned Curic gave the keynote speech at the Connected Car Detroit event attended by SMART Highways editor Paul Hutton and said that in the next five or ten years the mobility problem will be looked at differently that by 2025 every car will be connected and whichever company “gets the mobility experience” will “win”.
“Of the owner experience the main issue is the voice recognition,” he said, pointing to research on customer views. “Other things are far less of an issue, but year after year, voice is a problem, even ahead of Bluetooth issues.
“Connectivity will get better with new standards. Voice will get better, either existing suppliers will solve it or someone new will come into the market.”
Curic explained how the idea of putting Alexa into cars came to him when his ten-year-old daughter was disappointed that she couldn’t speak to control music during journeys so he retrofitted an Echo Dot in his vehicle. “We believe that the voice is going to be the dominant way of human-machine interface in the future,” he said. “Inside the vehicle where the driver needs to be hands free, voice makes complete sense.”
He pointed to the opportunities of blending voice control with navigation. “When I get in a vehicle today and try to go something I don’t use the very expensive navigation unit – it absolutely sucks,” he said. “I just want to say to it ‘take me to that address’ and that isn’t an experience that exists today so I want that experience.”
Curic said that Ford is adding Alexa to vehicles now with GM and Toyota adding the functionality soon. He said that the car and the smart home will be integrated so that use of voice systems, but the connected car is next and then you’ll have the car and smart home will “live in one ecosystem” so that you can use Alexa to remotely start a car and set its temperature, report the amount of fuel it has or set the fastest route to work before you have even got in.
He explained that he heads up two teams working on a connected car experience, one on the interactive experience and the other on the telematics.
“The idea,” he said, “is to make it super easy to take components and put them into a car with a system that makes sense for the OEM.”