Understanding the Amazon Alexa APIs for In-Vehicle Use: Part I

December 6, 2017




This two-part blog post will explore Amazon Alexa APIs and their applicability for in-vehicle use.

Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa is currently the dominant voice recognition technology for in-home devices. Thanks to an open development ecosystem, users can choose from Amazon’s own devices (such as Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, etc.) as well as various third-party products including smart speakers, smart TVs, in-vehicle assistants, etc. Through its Skills APIs, Amazon has opened a powerful ecosystem for many third-party devices and services, dramatically extending Alexa’s capabilities.

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Smartphone Gateway Connectivity via USB

November 3, 2017


An earlier post about over the air updates via the smartphone discussed the need for in-vehicle systems to open a secure connection to the cloud, via the smartphone, to verify the integrity and authenticity of software updates. This post examines how to achieve the same result with a USB connection, describes the standard USB connectivity options between smartphone and in-vehicle head-units, and discusses the difficulties of obtaining internet connectivity out of the box with those approaches.

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The Role of Smart Devices in the Modern Automotive Experience

October 15, 2017



Like virtually every other industry in the world, the automotive sector has been profoundly affected by the explosion of smart devices. Today, smartphones let millions of people enjoy the convenience of ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft or car-sharing services like Zipcar or car2go. Smartphones can also extend the capabilities of the car itself with over-the-air updates, customization, internet connectivity and more. And in the not-too-distant future, when self-driving cars are shared between multiple users, smart devices will carry the user’s identity from vehicle to vehicle, a

llowing for instant personalization.

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The Path to the Future of Connected Cars: Over the Air and Through the Phone

July 6, 2017

Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones, connected consumer electronics devices and cloud-based software, consumers have come to expect automatic, seamless over-the-air (OTA) updates that don’t disrupt their device usage.  As today’s cars become more and more technologically advanced, rolling off the line with up to 100 computers and millions of lines of code, it is now possible to update vehicles the same way we update our phones.  For car makers, the ability to push out OTA updates to their customers decreases maintenance, saves money by reducing recalls and increases customer satisfaction. Despite these advantages, most cars on the road today don’t yet have this capability, and drivers who want to update their automotive software have to either bring their vehicle into the dealership or download software to a thumb drive. The high-end models (led by Tesla) that do come with OTA capabilities use built-in modems, adding hardware and on-going cellular data expense to the vehicle.  While it may seem that the majority of drivers on the road will miss out on seamless OTA updates in the short-term unless they upgrade to the latest and greatest luxury sedan, there is in fact a simple and elegant solution that doesn’t require a built-in device, a solution that every driver already carries around in their hand everyday: the ubiquitous and versatile smartphone.

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Electric Vehicle Range Estimation using Maps

May 12, 2017


As any electric car owner knows, it is important for every electric vehicle (EV) to properly and accurately display remaining driving range based on the current battery charge. The number of EV charge stations is growing, but until they are as ubiquitous as gas stations, drivers will experience “range anxiety” and EV dynamic range estimation will remain important.

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Bridging the Gap – Automotive Hardware in a Software World

March 14, 2017

With the emergence of the Connected Car, ADAS, and Self-Driving Cars, OEMs are asking one important question: How do we solve the paradox of a piece of hardware that will exist for 10 years in an industry where the preferred features and technologies of our users evolve every 3 years? According to SimilarWeb, nearly 60% of web traffic is coming from mobile browsers, so the odds are that you are holding the answer in your hand right now.

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