Smart Home Networks
US car manufacturing giant Ford and online giant Amazon are teaming together in order to connect people’s cars into “smart home” networks.
The partnership aims to bring together connected vehicles with Amazon’s Echo smart home hub. Echo is a smart personal assistant. Introduced last year, Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker controlled wirelessly and was one of Amazon’s top-selling products this past holiday season.
It interfaces with Alexa, the cloud-based brain that rivals Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Echo’s Alexa can respond to questions and connect to other home devices. Moreover, it should allow drivers to communicate with the hub by doing things like asking their garage door to open. It also will allow drivers to control household electronics, lights, thermostats, and security systems—all from their vehicles.
Working from the voice-activated Echo hub, people will also be able to stop, start, lock, unlock, and check their vehicle’s fuel range from home. The feature should become available to consumers late this year.
Ford and Amazon
Ford’s connected car technology hub known as Sync will be integrated with Echo later this year. About 15 million cars on the road already use Sync, and Ford expects the figure to rise to 43 million by 2020.
With Ford’s Sync Connect and Amazon’s Echo, users can ask Alexa to start their car and check on the range of their vehicle from inside their home. While in the car, drivers can talk to Alexa and control their house as if they’re at home on the couch.
This is Amazon’s first major step towards integrating its services into automobiles, which comes more than a year after Apple and Google have introduced their respective CarPlay and Android Auto connected car platforms. However, CarPlay and Android Auto don’t allow interaction between the car and your home the way Ford claims Amazon’s Alexa will.
By partnering with Amazon, Ford is becoming a more integral part of the Internet of Things…without having to develop its own platform.