Amazon built a customized Alexa assistant that’s coming to cars

It lets any company build an AI assistant with unique wake words, voices and more.

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A screen in a Cadillac XT6 SUV displays Alexa on the infotainment system at the Amazon booth during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Steve Marcus / reuters

Amazon is opening up its AI tech to automakers and other third-companies with a new product called Alexa Custom Assistant. It will allow brands to build their own custom intelligent assistants that “co-exist” with Alexa, according to Amazon. That will allow them to create unique wake words, voices and capabilities “to each company’s unique personality and customer needs,” the company wrote in a press release.

Alexa Custom Assistant will let customers use both Alexa and their own branded assistant to do something called “simultaneous multi-assistant cooperation. “This allows the brand’s assistant to act as the product specialist, while Alexa is still available to help with everyday needs,” Amazon wrote. All of that will supposedly help companies build voice experiences with reduced “cost, complexity and time to market.”

At CES 2021, Amazon revealed that it would bring its Alexa assistant to Lamborghini and Rivian vehicles, promising it would let you control climate control, windows and other basic car functions by voice, on top of regular functions like navigation and calls. That sounds similar to what Amazon is referring to here, with Alexa functions working on top of customized vehicle functions — though Amazon didn’t say those automakers would use the new product.

Amazon didn’t reveal the costs or other details about the Alexa Custom Assistant. However, it makes a lot of sense for Amazon to take all the AI tech it’s developed and market it to other brands. The company announced that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will be the first to integrate the Alexa Custom Assistant.

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