GM and Amazon Create OnStar Alexa Skill to Use at Home
Amazon and General Motors have launched a new Alexa skill that brings OnStar into people’s homes. The new OnStar Guardian skill enables the voice assistant to contact emergency-certified OnStar Advisors when asked via a smart speaker or another Alexa-supported device.
The OnStar Guardian platform is best known as an emergency service for people in cars. The GM subsidiary debuted a quarter of a century ago as a safety feature for car owners. The new Alexa skill extends that concept to people’s homes, adding house fires, medical calamities, and burglaries to the existing list of problems that OnStar’s advisors can address. OnStar members who enable the skill can say “Alexa, call for help” during an emergency to connect with the service.
The idea is that a hands-free voice command will be faster and easier than making a regular phone call since the OnStar button in GM cars isn’t in the home. Only some OnStar members will be able to set up the skill right now, with emails sent out to those chosen for this pilot test, but Amazon and GM said they plan to make the service more widely accessible in the U.S. at some point next year.
“Through our collaboration with Amazon, people can now have access to OnStar’s Emergency-Certified Advisors in a place where they spend so much of their time — their home,” vice president of GM global innovation Pam Fletcher said in a statement. “This is another great example of how we’re expanding the safety and security of OnStar beyond the vehicle to help more people, which demonstrates GM’s commitment to its growth strategy and innovating its software-enabled services.”
Alexa All Over
Amazon has been pushing harder for more automotive adoption of Alexa this year. In February, Fiat Chrysler created the first Alexa Custom Assistant. followed more recently by Garmin’s new voice assistant built on the platform. This year also saw the Lamborghini Huracán Evo, the first car to rely on Alexa to control environmental settings thanks to upgrades to the Alexa Auto SDK 3.0. Nissan also took to Alexa, becoming the first to apply Amazon’s Connected Vehicle Skill API. Then the company scored a major win in May when Ford announced plans to integrate Amazon Alexa directly into hundreds of thousands of vehicles over the air.
Amazon is even going all out with Alexa as voice control for the Fire TV platform in cars with the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer installing Amazon Fire TV for Auto, which gives passengers access to the smart TV platform, including Alexa voice controls. It’s even become a punchline for marketing, as with a Buick ad where people get into heated debates about whether to call a car a Buick or an Alexa. The OnStar skill further blurs the separation of Alexa at home and when traveling.
“We’re excited to work with General Motors to introduce the OnStar Guardian skill to customers,” Amazon Alexa director Beatrice Geoffrin, said. “This hands-free Alexa skill makes it easy for customers to get help from OnStar’s Emergency-Certified Advisors when they need it. We hope this feature helps give families greater peace of mind throughout their day-to-day lives at home.”