Alexa’s New Connected Vehicle Skills API Simplifies Car Voice Commands Starting With Nissan
Alexa will unlock and start Nissan cars without the need to mention the specific skill used for the process, thanks to the new Connected Vehicle Skill API. Nissan is the first carmaker to integrate the name-free Alexa controls in the API, which means an owner can say “Alexa, start my car,” rather than “Alexa, ask NissanConnect Services to start my car.”
The Connected Vehicle Skill API gives owners of Nissan models built after 2016 access to simpler, more conversational Alexa commands as an option. The tasks the voice assistant can perform haven’t changed, but Alexa will understand what being asked to unlock “my car” or variations like “my truck” or “my van” mean without mentioning Nissan’s Alexa skill. Families with more than one Nissan can avoid any confusion by giving the cars custom names, either by model, as in “unlock my Rogue” or by the car’s usual driver, such as “unlock Brian’s car.” And, if the voice assistant is uncertain, it will ask to clarify which vehicle is being referenced before proceeding.
“This advancement with Amazon’s Alexa makes owning a Nissan vehicle that much easier,” Nissan U.S. and Canada vice president of product planning Jared Haslam said in a statement. “Our customers integrate their vehicles with their lives, and certainly integrate Alexa with their lives, so this combination could not be more ideal.”
Alexa first introduced this kind of no-name invocation last summer. Instead of Alexa users having to remember every skill name, the voice assistant would do it for them, potentially only needing keywords to infer what to do. For instance, pulling up the most recent game played when asked “Alexa, play a game,” or arranging an Uber when asked for a ride. The nameless invocation was part of a toolkit for developers, who could include up to five potential phrases that would lead Alexa to access the skill.
The name-free invocation and built-in Alexa commands give the Connected Vehicle Skill API a semblance of the Alexa Custom Assistant tool Amazon debuted in January. The conversational AI platform supports creating a voice assistant tailored to a particular brand in terms of wake word, features, and voice but supported by the same technology as Alexa. Fiat Chrysler was the first company to launch a branded voice assistant with the new platform. But Alexa Custom Assistants don’t have to be used for vehicles, while the Connected Vehicle Skill API has a narrower focus. There are benefits to the API for manufacturers who want to streamline the process of integrating Alexa into their vehicles,
“In the past, creating a connected vehicle skill required each automaker to start from the ground up using a custom skill API. This placed the burden on developers to define each interaction, extending the development timeline, and sometimes leading to inconsistencies in the customer experience,” Alexa Auto product marketing lead Mark Dipko explained in a blog post about the new option. “The Connected Vehicle Skill API improves the experience for developers by providing prebuilt Alexa capability interfaces developed specifically for common connected vehicle use cases including engine start/stop, temperature control, and vehicle lock/unlock. This eliminates the need for developers to build their own interaction models and sample utterances, making it faster and easier to launch new skills.”