CES 2022: Google, Amazon announce new partnerships to bring ambient computing to cars

CES 2022: Google, Amazon announce new partnerships to bring ambient computing to cars
6 Jan, 2022

Google and Amazon have stepped up collaborations with auto companies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022. While Google announced a partnership with Volvo Cars, Amazon announced a partnership with Stellantis NV, the company that owns brands like Jeep, Chrysler and Fiat.

While the companies might be taking different routes for enhanced integration with automobiles, they seem to have one central goal — ambient computing. Which is a Silicon Valley term for a future where computers are integrated into virtually everything and people interact with them without even realising it. And the artificial intelligence (AI) powered voice assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant, are at the core of these integrations.

“Stellantis and Amazon will collaborate to deploy Amazon’s technology and software expertise across Stellantis’ organisation, including vehicle development, building connected in-vehicle experiences, and training the next generation of automotive software engineers,” Amazon said in a press release. 

The two companies plan to create a “suite of software-based products and services” for Stellantis’ vehicles. Amazon chief executive office (CEO), Andy Jassy, said that the company is “inventing solutions” that will help Stellantis create personalised in-vehicle experiences. Stellantis’ CEO, Carlos Tavarez said that collaborating with Amazon will help bring tech expertise to STLA SmartCockpit, a cloud-based platform that extends to most of the company’s vehicles.

While Alexa hasn’t explicitly been mentioned today, it’s likely that the AI-based assistant will make an appearance in vehicles from Jeep and others. Companies like Mercedes, BMW and more have also tried to integrate their own voice assistant in their vehicles. Stellantis, too, has a custom version of Alexa in some of its cars, while the 2020 edition of the Honda City also allowed users to turn the car on, turn air conditioning on/off and more from their Alexa devices.

Google’s partnership with Volvo Cars, announced at CES, is somewhat the same. The auto firm will become the first car maker to “directly integrate” its vehicles with Google Assistant-enabled devices. Google also said that more such partnerships are to follow. The partnerships at CES look to take forward what these companies started over the past years, with deeper integrations between consumer electronic and automobile focused platforms.

Other than their respective voice assistants, Amazon also wants to bring the FireTV platform to more vehicles, while Google is enhancing the features of Android Auto, its platform for cars. Google also said that Android’s Fast Pair feature, which lets devices pair with smartphones almost instantly, is coming to Android Auto and will be offered on BMW and Ford cars later this years, with more to follow.

Further, Android phones with support for Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology — a Bluetooth like technology used for transmitting information over short ranges, but with better directional sense — will be able to act as car keys. Currently, select Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel phones support lock, unlock and start functions with BMW’s vehicles. A ‘key sharing’ feature will also allow users to let users share such functions with friends and family.