Garmin Speak Brings Alexa Into the Car

A new device called Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa was introduced today by the company best known for GPS-enabled wearable devices. The Speak is designed for the car with a windshield mount attachment and includes a small screen for simple navigation directions. Drivers have full access to Amazon Alexa skills through voice interaction. It is easy to describe Garmin Speak as a smaller version of the Amazon Echo Dot, but the presence of a screen makes it multi-modal and similar to a less capable Echo Spot. The device is listed for sale on Amazon and Best Buy for $149.99.

Garmin Speak Requires Your Smartphone

Unlike many Garmin devices, Speak does not include integrated GPS capabilities. Location information is derived from your smartphone. This also answers another question about Alexa access. Alexa and her many skills live in the cloud. That means you require an internet connection. Garmin Speak accesses the internet through your mobile device. So, you must have your smartphone with you and charged for Speak to function. This is not a big drawback for users since few people go out for a drive without their device. Speak also has a companion Garmin mobile app for iOS and Android which is used for device setup and offers additional features for navigation.

In addition to navigation, Garmin Speak offers access to the full array of Alexa skills. You can control your smart home devices to set the temperature, open the garage door or turn on the lights from the comfort of your car. Users also can listen to their music and podcasts as they would an Echo device in the home. Gizmodo and Ars Technica both offer excellent in-depth product reviews if you would like to learn more.

Alexa In The Car

Voicebot pointed out this week that Alexa is a popular feature promoted by car companies looking to capitalize on rising consumer interest in voice assistants. Jeep and Nissan recently announced Alexa skills that enable telematics integration. These features are limited to locking and unlocking the car, setting climate control and sometimes the ability to start the car. The skills do not enable in-car access to Alexa. Jeep does provide Apple Siri access for in-car voice interaction use cases.

By contrast, Ford has integrated Alexa into its dashboard for in-car use and both SEAT and BMW have committed to providing Alexa in some 2018 models. Voice assistants have a high convenience factor when used in the home. In the car they enable drivers to perform tasks that would otherwise be inaccessible or unsafe. Consumers can access Alexa from their Amazon mobile app (few people know this), but the interface is subpar and there are no turn-by-turn navigation solutions. If you want to access music, smart home and navigation features or just the ability to order Starbucks while on the go through Alexa, Speak is the latest device to adopt the Alexa everywhere strategy.

Cover Image Credit: Gizmodo

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