BMW introduces voice control by integrating Alexa into its vehicles

09 October 2017

09 October 2017

During 2018, BMW will integrate Amazon’s digital voice assistant ‘Alexa’ into its models, as well as its Mini brand, allowing vocal control of a vehicle’s entertainment system.

BMW drivers should be able to use Alexa’s access to various services such as music or audiobooks, to make purchases, to read messages or to show the way – and everything by voice. Overall, the entire range of tens of thousands of Alexa skills is available to drivers, which can also be used at home via the Echo device.

The addition of voice control means drivers can work their entertainment system remotely, or ask the vehicle for directions to their destination. It also gives passengers greater control, especially those in the rear of a vehicle, which may have some form of media player installed.

Full integration will bring the home-based convenience of Alexa into the car, says BMW. Adding a digital ecosystem ′will open up all sorts of new possibilities that customers can access quickly, easily and safely from their car,’ said Dieter May, senior vice president of digital services and business models at BMW.

Examples include asking Alexa which movies are on at the local cinema (and what the screen times are), listening to playlists or checking the weather at their destination. Naturally, as it’s an Amazon product, online orders can be made while driving.

′We are excited to work with BMW to bring the Alexa experience to their drivers,’ said Ned Curic, vice president, Alexa Automotive. ′Using your voice to enjoy content and interact with Alexa makes a great driving experience even better.’

The move is an addition to the ′BMW Connected skill’ for Alexa, which has been available since September 2016. This has allowed BMW Connected users in the USA, Germany and the UK to ask the system to check vehicle information such as the state of charge or fuel level, or control their car via Remote Services from the comfort of their home.

Vocal recognition systems are expected to be the next ′must have’ option for vehicle manufacturers. Volvo recently announced a partnership with Google, whereby the Swedish vehicle maker will build a new Android platform into its next-generation connected cars, which will offer a variety of apps developed by Volvo, Google or selected third parties. It is expected that this platform will be ready in two years’ time. The system will also be available to Audi, which has also announced a tie-in with Google and already built a system into its Q8 Sport concept car for Google’s I/O conference, which took place in May. 

Photograph courtesy of BMW Group