CES 2019: Alibaba's Tmall Genie assistant comes to BMW vehicles in China

Tmall Genie, the voice assistant developed by Alibaba A.I. Labs, will be available in-car to BMW customers in China by end of 2019.

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(Image: BMW)

Alibaba and BMW have used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week to announce another joint innovation, with the Chinese giant's voice assistant technology to be made available in-car.

Alibaba's AI product development unit, A.I. Labs, revealed its voice assistant Tmall Genie will be available for use in-car to BMW customers in China by the end of 2019.

The move will extend the car-maker's BMW Connected service, which is already integrated with other Tmall Genie-compatible devices.   

BMW Connected was launched in China in December 2016 and is currently used by 1.5 million customers, Alibaba said.

The new in-car offering will allow customers to use the in-built Tmall Genie as they do with other devices, with the BMW's display screen serving up text and images.

"With the integration of Alibaba's Tmall Genie in BMW vehicles in China we are adding a digital ecosystem, which will open up new possibilities that customers can access quickly and safely from the car," senior vice president Digital Services and Products at BMW Group Dieter May said.

"This development sees BMW reaching a new milestone in China in terms of intelligent connectivity between the customer's vehicle and their digital touchpoints."

Alibaba A.I. Labs launched its Auto Artificial Intelligence solution AI + Car last year, allowing connected cars in China to link up with Tmall Genie through the cloud, enabling vehicle users to talk any time to their smart speaker at home, as well as monitor their cars' status. It also allows users to direct vehicle operations such as locking the car doors, planning a route, checking fuel usage, and calculating journey time.

"We launched the 'AI+Car' solution last year aiming at providing more intelligent and connected experience for Chinese car users through Tmall Genie's AI powered voice interaction and service capabilities for cars," VP of Alibaba Group, head of Alibaba A.I. Labs Miffy Chen said.

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Alibaba and Ford also signed an agreement in December that will see the pair of companies explore areas where they can work together to introduce new services in the automotive industry in China and abroad.

The three year deal was touted by Alibaba as redefining the driving experience.

"[Our] infrastructure is open to the entire industry, to help push for an upgrade of the entire automotive sector," Huan Lu from Tmall's automotive division said previously.

Alibaba claims to have sold over 5 million Tmall Genie units since its launch in 2017.

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