Amazon has released its Alexa Custom Assistant, which it says will give device manufacturers, and automotive manufacturers in particular, the ability to create intelligent assistants tailored to their specific needs.
Global auto maker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first Alexa Custom Assistant customer, and says it has already begun the planning process for the development of an FCA-branded intelligent assistant for integration in select vehicle models. The company’s work builds on existing Alexa integrations in its vehicles around the world.
“Our customers expect to easily connect with their digital lifestyles wherever they go and today we responded with plans to offer new intelligent experiences built on Alexa’s world-class voice AI technology,” said Mark Stewart, COO at FCA – North America. “We look forward to the expanding partnership with Amazon and the integration of Alexa Custom Assistant within our powerful Uconnect system as we continue on our path to put customer needs and expectations at the center of everything we do.”
Amazon notes that building an intelligent assistant is complex, time-consuming and costly. Further, the rate of innovation and change is accelerating, and assistants are always improving and getting smarter, requiring substantial ongoing investments. The Alexa Custom Assistant addresses this challenge by allowing companies to leverage Alexa’s technology stack to create their own intelligent assistant without the investment, long development cycles and resources to build it from scratch and maintain it over time.
A unique feature of the Alexa Custom Assistant is that it enables the brand’s assistant and Alexa to cooperate in order to fulfill a user’s request. This feature is enabled by advanced AI to ensure each request is routed to the assistant that can provide the most relevant and delightful experience. For example, if a customer asks Alexa to roll down a car window, or how to troubleshoot a device, the request will be routed to the brand’s assistant. If a customer asks the brand’s assistant to play an audio book, the request will be routed to Alexa.
“Voice Assistants have become a critical piece of the in-vehicle customer experience, and automotive manufacturers are increasingly looking for opportunities to differentiate using this channel,” noted Matt Arcaro, senior industry analyst, digital automotive and transportation strategies, at market intelligence firm IDC. “However, many manufacturers struggle to balance the investments needed to develop, deliver and maintain a best-in-class voice experience for their vehicles. This has opened the door for popular voice assistants to invest in productizing their technology, capabilities and reach so that manufacturers can leverage this foundation to build a full-featured yet customizable voice assistant. The Alexa Custom Assistant appears well positioned to meet these needs.”