How brands like BMW are building with the Alexa Custom Assistant to develop the next generation of ambient experiences

Staff Writer Sep 28, 2022
Original Device Manufacturers Automotive Alexa Custom Assistant

At the Amazon Devices and Services event today, BMW announced that it will develop its next-generation voice experience with Alexa Custom Assistant (ACA). ACA enables device makers and service providers to create intelligent assistants tailored to their brand personality and customer needs, and BMW is leveraging the service to provide a wide range of in-car features and services. Programs like the Voice Interoperability Initiative (VII) — of which BMW is a member — illustrate how Amazon is promoting the ability for customers to simultaneously interact with multiple voice AIs on any smart device, including the ability to use ACA alongside Alexa.

New enhancements to ACA enable auto manufacturers and device makers to provide customers with the next generation of ambient experiences. For example, in the future, customers in vehicles will be able to ask a voice agent customized for a particular brand to reserve a charging station when their battery is running low, or proactively make an appointment when they are due for a maintenance check.


A world of benefits for brands and device makers.

BMW is the latest in a series of brands that are leveraging ACA to develop custom intelligent assistants. A year ago, we announced that Amazon and Disney are creating "Hey, Disney!," an entirely new kind of voice assistant that will work alongside Alexa on supported Echo devices at home and across Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms. “Hey, Disney!” will enable access to immersive experiences and entertainment, featuring iconic Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars characters. Last year, Verizon also announced a branded smart display powered by ACA that will allow customers to set up their service and manage their account. 

ACA is built on Alexa technology. As a result, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers can use state-of-the-art, always-improving voice AI technology, customized with unique wake word, voice, skills, and capabilities:

  • Text-to-speech technology: Alexa’ s text-to-speech technology enables OEMs to record voices in a particular language utilizing their preferred voice talent. They can then use Alexa’s Polyglot technology to then enhance that voice to speak languages and connect with customers who speak different languages. This reduces development cost and time, while allowing customers to experience the same ‘voice persona’ in multiple languages.
  • Custom device-hosted skills: OEMs can use ACA to enable their on-device custom skills. These allow OEMs to provide customized experiences for their customers when they have no or limited Internet connectivity: in a car, skills could communicate with vehicle sensors, and proactively engage the customer with conversational experiences when it is safe to do so. For example, they could provide an experience where the custom assistant prompts the customer proactively by saying, “Your battery charge is running low. Would you like me to add a stop at a charge point along your route?”
  • Signal-to-interpretation (S2I) improvements– Alexa Local Voice Control enables OEMs to offer their customers offline access to Alexa. S2I capabilities embedded within Local Voice Control (LVC) optimize both speech recognition and natural language understanding within a unified all neural architecture. Improvements to S2I in ACA will result in faster processing of requests to Alexa.

The Alexa Custom Assistant is available anywhere Alexa is supported. To learn more, contact your Alexa account representative or join the Alexa Custom Assistant Interest List for more information.

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