Siri and Alexa will soon be facing stiff competition, at least when it comes to cars: Mercedes is set to become the first carmaker to introduce its own voice-activated assistant.
Anyone who steps into one of their cars greets the console with the words "Hey Mercedes" will be able to control virtually all vehicle functions, from radio to seat heating, through verbal commands. According to Mercedes, this will let drivers and passengers pick music, ask about the weather or even get directions.
The new voice control feature will initially be available in 13 languages. It is part of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) unveiled at the recent CES trade fair in Las Vegas.
The MBUX comes with a new generation of instruments and a fresh operating system, which has led Mercedes to upgrade its wide touchscreen consoles across its product line. The new screens will offer more complex graphics, greater information density and more personalisation options.
In addition, Mercedes will continue to expand the touch fields on the steering wheel and the upgraded touchpad along the centre tunnel. According to the manufacturer, however, these various inputs will be used less and less frequently in the future, as improved artificial intelligence will allow the car to get to know its driver or drivers over time, and automatically suggest specific settings or adjustments.
The technology will first be used in the new A-Class, which will mark its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show in March and go on sale by mid-2018.
Thereafter, Mercedes hopes roll out the technology across its product line quite quickly. "By 2020, it will be in all our cars," the German carmaker says. — dpa
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