Adopting a strategy of open-source software is being followed by Amazon.com Inc. for its voice-based Alexa digital assistant so that car makers and others are able to easily place it in their cars and chose it before Google.
A number of speech-recognition technologies are being targeted by Amazon so that a number of in-vehicle apps of Alexa becomes compatible with them and for this purpose, the engineers of the company has teamed up with those from Nuance Communications Inc. and Voicebox Technologies Corp. This will not require developers to create multiple versions. The companies aim to get the software ready by June this year and with this mind, the engineers of both the companies are meeting once a week to discuss progress. The joint team was set up about a month ago.
There is however one condition in this development. All of the vehicles that are intended to be fitted with the open sourced Alexa would require the use of Automotive Grade Linux. This is an open-source platform that is in the process of development by Toyota Motor Corp. and a number of auto makers and suppliers. This platform forms the basis of all of the software that would run on the vehicles.
At present, only the new Camry and Sienna from Toyota and the Japanese version of the plug-in Prius are fitted with the system. However, Toyota has announced expansion of the list. With Amazon signing up for it last month, there are 114 members for AGL from about 90 members a year ago which indicates that the software platform is also growing.
“With Alexa integrated into AGL, the process of building voice experiences is dramatically simplified for developers,” John Scumniotales, director of products at Amazon Alexa Automotive, said. “This would ultimately speed the rollout of voice services into cars. AGL has an opportunity to scale voice experiences across the automotive industry.”
The primary competitor for Amazon’s Alexa is Google Assistant and the two companies are on a head to head collision course in this regard. Amazon aims to create a seamless connection platform for people while they are at home as well as when they are travelling.
According to Jitendra Waral, a San Francisco-based technology analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, for companies that are looking to gain the position as the leader in the race for voice assistant provider, it is imperative that they manage to become a dominant player and system in vehicles because people nowadays tend to expend a significant amount of time in their cars. “Both Google and Amazon have announced partnerships, but it’s very early to tell.”
(Adapted from Livemint.com)