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Audi, BMW and Mercedes drivers will soon be able to use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant as a navigation tool between Here Technologies – the former Nokia mapping unit which was bought by a consortium of German carmakers in 2015 – and Amazon.
Unveiled at CES 2019, currently underway in Las Vegas, the collaboration will see Alexa pre-integrated into Here’s newly launched Navigation On-Demand navigation and location platform, delivering a voice-led car navigation experience that the partners claim will offer “natural, intuitive” guidance.
“The in-vehicle user experience is rapidly changing, and automakers today have the opportunity to deliver the next generation of services that maximise the vehicle's utility as the ultimate connected device and providing consumers with the user experience they expect,” said Here CEO Edzard Overbeek.
“Our work with Amazon will drive a truly differentiated … user experience, from the home to the car, to where you want to go, and what you need to know.”
Here will provide information from its location services platform to Amazon to power Alexa’s location awareness both inside and outside the car, letting users search and find points of interest, get traffic information, and plan their routes.
A user might, for example, ask their home Echo device to remind them to stop at the supermarket on the way home, enabling the in-vehicle navigation system to remind the user about their planned errand and plot the optimal route for them.
“Because Alexa is integrated directly into the experience, automakers using Here Navigation On-Demand can easily provide customers with an intuitive, voice-first experience in the car, and provide richer, more useful voice interactions at home and on the go,” said Ned Curic, Amazon’s vice-president of Alexa Auto.
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In the future, Amazon and Here said they would explore opportunities to offer additional functionality, for example, integrating Alexa with services created on Here’s Open Location Platform (OLP) could enable the service to answer drivers’ questions – such as “where is my turning?” – conversationally, contextually and in real-time.
Besides the launch of Navigation On-Demand and integration with Alexa, Here has announced a number of other initiatives at CES, including enhancements to its Over The Air (OTA) Connect service for updating connected vehicles and internet of things (IoT) devices to automate fault diagnostics and fixes.