Enabling Offline Access to Alexa in Vehicles with Local Voice Control Extension to Alexa Auto SDK v2.0

Adam Foster Sep 10, 2019
Automotive News

Today, we announced version 2.0 of the Alexa Auto SDK, which now offers a full-suite of offline functionality, in addition to online functionality, for accessing Alexa in the car, including: music and radio, search and navigation, calling and messaging, and car control. Automakers and their suppliers can use the Alexa Auto SDK to integrate Alexa into their vehicles, helping keep customers entertained and productive—even when connectivity is intermittent or not available.

Start developing with the Alexa Auto SDK today »

Although voice services are becoming a more important part of our daily lives at home and on the go, it continues to be challenging to provide such services in vehicles. We took a closer look with JD Power in 2018 and found that the in-vehicle voice service will impact the purchasing decision of 59% buyers, and most (76%) people want continuity from their voice service at home to their vehicle. This growing demand encouraged us to create the Alexa Auto SDK, which lets automakers improve the in-car voice experience by adding automotive-specific functionality to Alexa and contextualizing the experience for the vehicle. To help reduce development effort, the SDK includes ready-to-run sample applications and support for most automotive platforms and design guidelines to help automakers deliver the familiar Alexa customer experience while maintaining their own branding. Further, automakers can extend the functionality of Alexa in their vehicles by building custom skills with the Alexa Skills Kit.

“Since its release last summer, we’ve seen an incredible response from automakers interested in using the Alexa Auto SDK to embed Alexa directly into their vehicles,” said Ned Curic, VP of Alexa Auto at Amazon. “At the same time, we know drivers often find themselves in places with poor or limited connectivity, and they still want to be able to access certain features and services through Alexa. This newest version of the Alexa Auto SDK delivers that capability for automakers, enabling their customers to take Alexa even more places on the go.”

The Alexa Auto SDK enables core Alexa functionality, such as speech recognition and text-to-speech, and other capabilities such as streaming media, controlling smart home devices, notifications, weather reports, and tens of thousands of custom skills. It can be updated over-the-air and now includes the Local Voice Control extension, which ensures that customers get a reliable response from Alexa regardless of connectivity. On a normal commute, drivers lose connectivity or experience intermittent or transitional connectivity while driving in dense urban areas, through tunnels, in remote areas, or in parking garages. With the Local Voice Control extension to the Alexa Auto SDK, automakers embed a scaled-down version of Alexa’s cloud-based Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) into the vehicle’s infotainment system that increases resiliency of the cloud-based capabilities. This ensures that a customer can always ask, “Alexa, turn on the A/C,” “Alexa, tune to 90.5 FM,” or “Alexa, call Jackie,” and get the appropriate response and action from Alexa.

“The vehicle environment is unique and requires online and offline voice capabilities to be truly successful,” says Matt Arcaro, Research Manager, Next-Generation Automotive Research at IDC. “This dual-mode support not only reduces the impact of variable network conditions, but will give vehicle users the confidence to increasingly think of voice as an effective and efficient means for vehicle interaction and customization.”

The following features are now available through the Alexa Auto SDK:

  • Music and Radio: control media playback, stream music, audiobooks, and podcasts from leading providers, tune radio, change local media sources, turn up the volume, and adjust equalizer.
  • Calling and Messaging: dial by name and number, control call in progress, make Alexa announcements, use Alexa Drop In, join meetings, and send and receive Alexa messages.
  • Search and Navigation: navigate to favorite destinations, search for places by name, brand, category, address, or intersection, get details such as hours of operation, phone number, and ratings, determine route info like traffic and ETA, and cancel navigation in progress.
  • Car Control: turn on air conditioning, set desired cabin temperature, control temperature by zone, set fan mode and speed, defrost front and rear windshield, and control interior cabin lighting.

Automakers: Learn more about integrating Alexa into your vehicles with the Alexa Auto SDK.

Skill developers: Learn how you can customize your Alexa skill for in-vehicle use cases.