A number of different automakers have embraced Amazon’s Alexa, but that doesn’t help millions of drivers who own older vehicles. Amazon is tapping into this largely untouched market by introducing the new Echo Auto.
Set to cost $49.99, the device is specially designed for use in automobiles which are typically louder than your home. In order to compensate for the extra noise, the Echo Auto has an “eight-microphone array” that enables the device to hear your requests even when there’s road noise, construction or music playing in the background.
The Echo Auto is a relatively small – it measures 3.3” x 1.9” x 0.5” (85 mm x 47 mm x 13.28 mm) – and weighs just 1.6 oz (45 grams). It is designed to be mounted to a vehicle’s dashboard and is powered by an included micro-USB cable. Once the initial setup is complete, Amazon says drivers will simply need to start their car and the Echo Auto will be ready to respond “within just a few seconds.”
While Echo devices normally connect to the internet over WiFi, this isn’t an option in most automobiles. Instead, the Echo Auto will connect to your smartphone and use its data connection.
Once the device is connected, it can make calls and give directions using apps such as Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze. The Echo Auto can also play music through your car’s audio system via a Bluetooth connection or the included auxiliary cable.
The device also supports “location-based routines” which are automatic actions that Alexa can performance once your leave the office or get home. This means the system could be programmed to turn on your house lights as soon as you pull into the driveway.
The device certainly sounds pretty interesting, but it will be pretty hard to come by. For now, the Echo Auto will be available only though invitation and devices won’t start shipping until later this year.