Amazon Partners With Panasonic To Bring Alexa To Your Car
Panasonic is the first partner to support Alexa Onboard, the first of many Amazon hopes.
At CES on Monday, Amazon introduced Alexa Onboard, a new voice system that integrates Alexa with your car's infotainment system. Additionally, Panasonic will be the first vehicle infotainment system manufacturer to partner with Amazon to bring Alexa to cars everywhere.
This marks a departure from Amazon's previous method of Alexa integration, which has been based on specific auto manufacturers. Amazon has already struck a deal with BMW, as well as Ford, Genesis, and Mercedes. By partnering with infotainment manufacturers, Amazon can spread its voice recognition technology to numerous auto manufacturers at once. Panasonic is one of the largest, with an 11.5 percent market share according to a 2016 report by Strategy Analytics.
Modern infotainment systems are often lacking in handsfree voice activation capabilities. Giving a simple command can often resemble this 2001: A Space Odyssey parody in which Hal doesn't go crazy, but simply can't interpret David Bowman's commands correctly. This wouldn't be so funny if it wasn't true of our own frustration at times. The spread of Alexa is one method auto manufacturers are seeking solutions from technology companies rather than continuing to try their own homegrown solutions.
One unique feature of Alexa Onboard is that you do not have to be connected to the internet to ask for basic commands such as navigation or to control your music. This is all part of Amazon's plan to make Alexa available practically everywhere.
But there is still the question of privacy. Aside from the people who wear hats constructed of aluminum foil, there's the question of whose Amazon account is associated with a given car or infotainment system. Even my Seicane Android head unit doesn't address the question of security adequately, with few safeguards available to keep others who drive the car out of Google and other accounts that must be logged into for it to function.
But like it or not, Alexa continues to infiltrate its way into our daily lives. It will add our technological and biological distinctiveness to its own. Resistance is futile.