Garmin launches Alexa-controlled infotainment platform

Garmin's platform will also have predictive algorithms to give weather conditions expected along any route.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor

Garmin announced Thursday an Intel-based infotainment platform for automotive manufacturers to embed in their products. For customers, Garmin's infotainment offering will bring Amazon Alexa, wireless rear-seat navigation, and other conveniences while driving or riding.

Garmin is trying to take a shot at BlackBerry QNX, which has a large footprint in the infotainment space thanks to its partnerships with all the largest automotive industry chip suppliers. BlackBerry's software is in about 60 percent of the vehicles on the road.

Trying to utilize its GPS expertise, Garmin's partnership with Amazon brings Alexa integration into Garmin's infotainment offering to enable drivers to control on-board navigation, media player software, and utilize Alexa skills -- smartphone not required.

Garmin also highlighted the platform will get predictive routing algorithms to display the weather conditions expected along any route. Garmin partnered with AccuWeather Go and its MinuteCast product to enable minute-by-minute forecasts.

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"Garmin's scalable infotainment platform offers a level of performance and design that consumers expect from consumer electronics but have never seen in OEM infotainment," said Kip Dondlinger, Garmin automotive OEM manager of product and user experience, in a statement. "The new platform provides adaptable hardware and software for infotainment head units that suit specific OEM needs at the mid- and high-end levels of the market."

Garmin's infotainment platform will allow rear seat riders to stream media content to the infotainment system over Wi-Fi. It will also provide the head unit's mapping and full navigation functionality streaming via Wi-Fi. Rear seat passengers will be able to see the vehicle's route, search points of interest, and even send destinations to the head unit.

Alternatives to Garmin and QNX offerings include Android Automotive, Google's plan to bring a car-focused version of Android to run on infotainment hardware. The third-parties also have to fend off OEMs own platforms like Audi MMI.

Garmin said it will provide more details about the platform at CES next week in a full working demo. Garmin didn't detail initial OEM partners or a launch date, but it said the platform uses Intel quad core and dual core Apollo Lake processors.

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