CES 2022: Google and Amazon are bringing the vision for “environmental computing” to cars
For the past few years, both Google and Amazon have moved to integrate their AI capabilities and services into a variety of products, from smart phones and speakers to ovens and earbuds. Both companies have described this strategy as a push for "environmental computing" - computing capabilities that move quickly between all aspects of your life.
At CES on Wednesday, Google and Amazon announced new partnerships to show how the automotive sector offers ample opportunity for gains in the race for "environmental computing" leadership.
Google has made several ads related to Android Auto - like cars as well as built - in Google cars, such as Volvo's new cars that have deep integration with Google. At the same time, Amazon announced a series of multi-year global deals with Stellantis - the automaker behind brands like Jeep, Fiat and Chrysler - that include Amazon Devices, Amazon Web Services and Amazon Last Mile.
The automotive sector is "next to us where this idea of environmental computing makes sense," Amazon SVP David Limp told CNBC on Wednesday.
Autonomous driving is "still down the road a bit," he said. When "you want to keep your hands on the wheel ... there's nothing better than a voice interface."
Carmakers want to keep customers happy not only with voice-activated features but with a wide range of new devices and digital experiences powered by cloud computing and. In addition, they are looking to technology companies to help them move to more efficient and accurate production methods with software.
With Amazon's help, Stellantis plans to build a complete suite of software - based products and services that integrate with customers' existing digital devices. That will begin with software development for the STLA SmartCockpit platform, which will run in millions of Stellantis vehicles worldwide starting in 2024.
The platform will deliver applications for entertainment, Alexa-enabled voice support, navigation, vehicle maintenance, e-commerce markets and payment services. It features an app store displayed through an intuitive, customizable user interface that provides curated information and features to users.
The STLA SmartCockpit adapts to user behavior and interests. For example, designer Chrysler Pacifica vehicles could offer a family tour that suggests media content, points of interest, restaurants and other fun stops along the way. Jeep vehicles could come with an off-road digital “coach” to help customers capitalize on the vehicle before embarking on hard ground.
Stellantis customers will also be able to manage their vehicles from their Alexa-enabled devices at home or their Alexa smartphone app. For example, they could use Alexa's standard skills to set the interior temperature before getting into their vehicle. On the other hand, they will be able to inspect and manage their homes while in the car with Amazon’s smart home and security services.
Stellantis and Amazon plan to jointly build the STLA SmartCockpit on Amazon Web Services, which will be Stellantis' preferred cloud provider for automotive platforms.
At the same time, Amazon also announced that it is bringing Fire TV to more vehicles, including BMWs.
In Q4, Stellantis was the first automaker to integrate Fire TV into its in - house entertainment offerings. In addition, Ford Explorer and Lincoln Navigator will introduce Fire TV to their 2022 models. Now, BMW is building its Theater Screen with built-in Fire TV.
Like Amazon, Google is making progress with carmakers integrating Google directly into car experiences. Later this year, Volvo will add Google's features to vehicles, such as the ability to access YouTube and other video entertainment while the car is parked. Users will also be able to ask Google to change car settings or enable features such as line maintenance support. They will also be able to use any device with the help of Google Assistant - such as a smart home speaker - to perform remote tasks such as warming up the car, unlocking or checking the status of its battery.
Together with Volvo, car manufacturers like Polestar and General Motors deliver vehicles with Google technology built into their infotainment systems.
Google is also bringing smart capabilities to cars with Android Auto, which connects to car displays through your Android phone. It's now easier to connect to Android Auto thanks to Fast Pair, which provides just one touch. Nearly 150 million vehicles worldwide now offer Android Auto. Fast Pair is currently available on select BMW and Ford cars, with more to come.
Google is also expanding the capabilities of its digital car key, which allows current users to lock, unlock and boot supported BMW vehicles from select Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel phones. Later this year, phones with Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology will allow you to unlock your compatible car without having to take your phone off at all. Additionally, Key Sharing allows you to share your digital car key remotely with friends and family.