Technology in the car keeps drivers informed and connected. Logitech, a global leader in personal computing and accessories, is using voice control and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to help drivers stay focused on the road.
The company built ZeroTouch, a product that enables drivers to use their voice to control mobile-based applications on their Android phones or access cloud-based services via Amazon Alexa.
ZeroTouch is a combination of hardware and software that creates a hands-free voice experience in any car. The magnetic hardware car mount holds a phone in place either on the car dash or an air vent. The ZeroTouch mobile application launches via BluetoothⓇ and its voice control feature is activated with the wave of a hand.
A Tale of Two Voices
The mobile app part of ZeroTouch combines two distinct voice services to provide drivers with control of their phone and home while on the road.
“ZeroTouch and Alexa both use natural language processing to understand user intent,” Froi Lomotan, head of engineering at Logitech, said. “We had to design a user experience that combines these services without confusing customers and without a high failure rate. We designed the product in such a way that based on the request or command, the services would understand which assistant the user was speaking to and then respond in turn.”
Drivers can use the native ZeroTouch voice control features to send text messages, make phone calls, draft emails, and even request navigation to specific destinations. Alexa brings smart home control, streaming media services like audio books and Flash Briefings, access to Alexa skills, and more to ZeroTouch customers. Learn more about AVS features.
“The combination of Logitech ZeroTouch and Alexa make it possible for drivers to use their voice to control more than just their smartphone. With Alexa, users can control smart devices in the home, before they even get there,” Logitech’s Head of Business Patric Frank said.
“For us, it’s like looking at the product as if you’re speaking with two friends,” Lomotan said. “If one friend is good with cars and you have a question about your car, you’ll turn to them. However, you might ask a different person about cooking or other topics.”
Another challenge the ZeroTouch team faced was working in the difficult acoustic environment of the car. Road noise, loud passengers, and car stereo systems can make it difficult for one-microphone devices to pick up voice triggers like a wake word. Logitech’s solution allows ZeroTouch customers to place their hand directly in front of the device’s front-facing sensor to activate the voice services. The hand gesture wakes up the device, and the user can then ask Alexa or ZeroTouch for assistance.
Working with the Alexa Team
Voice interaction is still new for most people—even though the technology has been around for years. According to Lomotan, the team’s familiarity with the Amazon Echo user experience proved valuable during the Alexa integration process.
“If you’re building a hardware product, really get to know where it’s going to be used and be aware of the environmental conditions,” Lomotan said. “Don’t assume every user out there understands how to interact with a voice service like Alexa. Keep instructions simple, concise, direct, and guide the user as much as possible.”
ZeroTouch with Alexa launched in the US and UK in February 2017. As of today, it’s now available in Germany. According to Frank, customers are already writing in to the company with praise for the new Alexa integration. “People find it hard to believe that this new functionality is available to them on ZeroTouch, and we’re happy to bring even more delightful experiences to our customers,” Frank said.
The ZeroTouch team credits the successful launch with the close collaboration it had with the AVS Team and the completeness of AVS API documentation and guides.
Learn more about AVS
As an AVS developer, you can build products with access to Alexa’s growing list of capabilities and international availability through our regular API updates, feature launches, and from thousands of Alexa skills contributed by our active developer community. Best of all, AVS is free to use. Learn how AVS can add rich voice-powered experiences to your connected products.
New to voice user interface design? See how the technology works by building your own Amazon Alexa prototype for Raspberry Pi. Have questions? We’re here to help. Visit us on the AVS Forum to speak with one of our experts.