Mercedes, Audis and Volvos to Adopt Alibaba’s Smart Speaker Tmall Genie
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced that three global automakers—Daimler (which owns the Mercedes Benz brand), Audi and Volvo—will become the first carmakers to add its smart speaker Tmall Genie to the range of smart devices compatible with their connected car apps. Several models of the luxury car brands in China will be able to connect to Tmall Genie, allowing users to interact with their vehicles using voice commands in Mandarin Chinese.
Cars have increasingly become an environment where individuals spend a significant amount of time, and this is becoming more evident in China, as car ownership picks up and as people spend more time in traffic. Bringing connectivity to consumers in vehicles presents an opportunity to improve the consumer experience. “Identifying how to serve car users with our smart home assistant Tmall Genie is one of our top priorities. We are thrilled to partner with distinguished auto brands such as Daimler, Audi and Volvo to drive the revolution of smart mobility in China,” said Lijuan Chen, Head of Alibaba AI Labs, the artificial intelligence (AI) division of Alibaba that develops AI-powered consumer applications and products.
Although smartphones already provide numerous functionalities to consumers, we believe that the vehicle environment has the potential to provide more navigation and entertainment features through improved connectivity and smart speakers.
How Tmall Genie Functions in a Vehicle Environment
Launched in July 2017, Tmall Genie is a voice-controlled smart speaker developed by Alibaba in China. The device is powered by its human-computer voice-interaction platform, called AliGenie 2.0, which understands commands in Mandarin Chinese. Over 2 million Tmall Genie units have been sold in China as of March 2018. According to Alibaba, users spend on average close to an hour a day using the smart assistant, and around 300,000 smart home devices are voice-controlled by Tmall Genie daily.
When connected with a vehicle, the smart speaker can provide and perform the following tasks:
Alibaba’s AI Labs is working on integrating the AliGenie platform more deeply into vehicles’ operating software to develop more use cases in a car environment, with more navigation and entertainment features.
Commuting in a vehicle is a part of daily life for many people around the world, and increasingly so in China, as vehicle ownership rises, and one that can be both dull and time consuming. Turning a vehicle into a connected environment presents an opportunity to enhance the user experience. At this stage, Tmall Genie can provide entertainment such as playing music or offer interactive learning to passengers, help monitor one’s home, such as checking whether the doors are locked, and perform simple car operations, such as starting the vehicle or turning on the A/C. We believe Alibaba will continue to develop and launch more functionalities for Tmall Genie specific to the automobile environment to improve the vehicle experience both for passengers and drivers.