Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa voice-activated virtual assistant will be added to some Toyota and Lexus vehicles this year, advancing Amazon’s ambitions to expand its speech platform beyond the home. Alexa will let drivers and passengers get directions, control entertainment features, get the news and perform other functions in the car via voice command, the companies said Tuesday at the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas. Alexa in cars can also be synced with smart-home devices to control thermostats while on the road.
“It’s still really day one for us in terms of what we can do with Alexa in the vehicle,” said John Scumniotales, head of products for Alexa’s automotive efforts, onstage at an event at CES. The world’s largest online retailer is seeking to remain in constant contact with customers by making its Alexa platform and Echo digital assistants as ubiquitous as possible. Amazon has similar arrangements with other carmakers, and in November it announced a suite of voice-activated work tools to bring Alexa to the office.
Toyota Motor Corp. joins Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Nissan Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Daimler AG, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co. in either letting Alexa into their vehicles or integrating the voice service into the connectivity systems that link customers’ cars and mobile phones.
It’s a noteworthy development for the Japanese company because it’s been resistant to other big tech giants.
The carmaker hasn’t offered Apple Inc.’s CarPlay or Alphabet Inc.’s Android Auto on its touchscreens.
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Hisense has announced that a number of its upcoming 4K TVs will feature Amazon Alexa. The Smart TVs will ship with the virtual assistant built in and will allow users to control TV functions using voice commands. Hisense’s Alexa-powered TVs will also connect to music services and other smart home products, turning the TV into a smart home hub.
Amazon Alexa will be available on select models of the 2018 Hisense Smart TV lineup, and the full range will be unveiled at CES in Las Vegas next week.
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Amazon has opened the technology which powers its Alexa voice assistant, Amazon Lex, to developers. Lex has been in preview since 2016, and will allow developers to include chat features in their apps. This is in support of Amazon’s vision of being able to control almost any software using voice commands.
Text and voice queries sent to Lex, as with Alexa, will be used to train the artificial intelligence that powers the speech and natural language processing of the service.
- ^ I built a voice-controlled Amazon Echo using a Raspberry Pi (mybroadband.co.za)