Last week, Volvo announced that it is integrating Skype for Business into its 90 Series cars, as well as working with Microsoft on the possibility of bringing its Cortana digital assistant to its vehicles. Nissan is also collaborating with Microsoft on a project involving Cortana.
Indeed, Microsoft has been very busy in the automotive sector lately, as it's also been working with BMW. The German manufacturer has presented an "intelligent connectivity" vision that shows how the assistant could be built into its cars in the future, along with various other technologies.
"At CES 2017," BMW said that it would be "showcasing digital services that will allow drivers of future automated vehicles to optimise the way they plan their daily lives." This includes 'Augmented Gesture Control', through which - for example - a driver might simply be able to point to a building as they pass by, in order to get information on it, while the car does all the driving for them.
BMW added that its "connected driving experience will also be enhanced by intelligent voice control", powered by a "personal digital assistant that customers are familiar with in other areas of their daily lives." It continued:
The system being presented at CES 2017 is the in-car application of Microsoft’s Cortana. This means that the voice-controlled capabilities already offered by Microsoft Cortana on a home PC could or smartphone in future also be available on board a BMW. For example, BMW Connected can provide a reminder en-route of an upcoming appointment for which no location has yet been fixed. And Cortana can be used to make a suitable restaurant recommendation and reserve a table.
BMW is also showcasing further examples of how third-party software and technologies might be used to enhance the in-car experience, including Amazon Prime Now:
Another service possible with future versions of BMW Connected is delivery of tens of thousands of goods while the customer is on the road. Amazon Prime Now, which is integrated into all the user’s devices (both in and outside the vehicle) via the Open Mobility Cloud, enables goods to be ordered through the app while drivers are on the way to their next destination.
Amazon Prime Now could also be used as part of BMW's Passenger Mode for self-driving vehicles. When in autonomous drive, the car would know if the driver would have time to watch a movie or TV show before arriving at their destination. As the company explained: "In Passenger Mode, the vehicle can then adapt to the passengers’ needs in different situations. For instance, when rear-seat passengers start playing a video, the interior lighting is immediately dimmed and the sunblinds closed."