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In-car personal assistants set for significant growth

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Virtual personal assistants (VPAs) such as Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are expected to expand significantly into the automotive sector.

IHS Markit predicts that nearly 700 million of these software platform will be enabled in vehicles by 2024.

VPAs in vehicles are expected to be a hot topic at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It’s feasible some vehicles may have multiple VPAs, with varying levels of functionality.

Seat is among the first car makers to embed Amazons Alexa into its new models.

Embedded VPAs use an on board telematics unit to enable control of functions within the car and externally by communicating with a smart home device.

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are projected to become the first embedded solutions available.  Google Assistant Embedded will be available only on infotainment head units using Android Automotive operating systems, while Amazon Alexa would be available across a wide range of infotainment software solutions.

VPA via smartphone integration will potentially be the most prominent in the future. The solutions can rely exclusively on microphones in the smart phone and can control apps but not control the in-vehicle features.

Some limited in-vehicle controls will be available depending on the type of head unit and smartphone integration fitted.

Device-to-Car only systems enable commands that originate from a home device, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, to be sent to the car. The functionality of these systems range, but typically use a smart home device to send directions or start your car remotely, but are unable to control anything within the car.

While Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa make inroads in the car, some OEMs are nervous of ceding control of voice to the IT industry, according to HIS Markit.

“The challenge in bringing an OEM-sourced VPA to market is huge,” said Colin Bird-Martinez, senior analyst of automotive software and services at IHS Markit. “Automakers are still outsourcing much of their service architecture to third parties. It is not unusual for an OEM to own its connected car services but create an ecosystem of suppliers and partners for each function of the service itself.”

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