RAC Cars News


BMW car owners set for Amazon Echo experience

By raccars Published


British BMW owners will be able to use their voices to operate their BMW Connected functions straight away if they opt for Amazon Echo technology.

The Amazon Echo virtual assistance device will start to be shipped out later this month and British BMW owners could be amongst the first to enjoy the technology after the car giant confirmed that they will be able to make use of the new technology straight away.

Mobility assistance on offer

The new Echo speakers will be functional in BMWs from the outset as a result of the company’s integration with Amazon’s Alexa technology. BMW Connected, meanwhile, is designed as a digital personal mobility assistant and makes use of ‘Alexa skill’ to function.

In the future, Echo owners will have the ability to control their BMW Connected functions at home using just voice activation, as well as being able to use the existing apps for Android smartphones, iPhones and Apple Watches.

BMW was the first vehicle manufacturer to announce complete Alexa integration in the UK but it remains to be seen whether this will prompt anyone to invest in a BMW car before the September 28 Echo delivery date just because of its voice-activated assistance capabilities.

BMW car functions with Echo and Connected

The combination of Amazon Echo and BMW Connected will allow owners to use their voices for a range of different tasks. These include checking the fuel level, monitoring the battery charge of models such as the BMW i8 and i3, locking and unlocking their car, setting destinations in the satellite navigation system and asking Alexa to tell them when they have to leave for an appointment.

More about Amazon Echo

BMW owners can benefit from a variety of different car-based services but Amazon would undoubtedly say that its Amazon Echo speaker system has a much wider appeal.

Alexa is essentially a cloud service and all of the requests for information and other services are processed within the cloud. This includes shopping list items, connected home devices, calendar entries, music playlists and information relating to any connected BMW car.

The voice-controlled hands-free speaker connects with the Alexa Voice Service and can be used to do everything from playing music to answering questions. It can be used to retrieve information about current news, the weather and sports scores and members of Amazon Prime members can also use it to help them shop.

The Echo system uses seven microphones, accompanied by beam-forming technology, in order to allow it to hear its user’s voice. Echo also boasts a speaker that is said to offer 360-degree 'immersive sound'.

Users can ‘wake’ Echo by simply saying the word ‘Alexa’ and Echo should then respond. For people using multiple Echos or Echo Dot, the technology will allow Alexa to respond intelligently based upon the device which is nearest to the user thanks to Echo Spatial Perception (ESP).

This feature should be available in the near future as a result of a free and over-the-air update to the software.

Amazon is also promising that the Alexa Voice Service will improve further over time and users are asked to help with this by feeding back and by using the Voice Training feature of the Alexa App.

The Amazon Echo microphone capabilities can be turned off when not needed and Echo will not respond to its wake word or to its action button until reactivation occurs.

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