Amazon Echo Auto Solves the ‘Are We There Yet?’ Road Trip Problem

Sep 21, 2018

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As Amazon forges ahead in its march to put a microphone in everything and connect it with Alexa, the company has unveiled a new gizmo designed to add a connected element to practically any vehicle. While Echo Auto is set to retail for $50, it’s being offered at 50% off for a limited time. The natural question, of course, is what value does it bring to your vehicle’s cabin?

If you’re familiar with Alexa, you’re aware that it can do some pretty spiffy things when synced with a connected home. By merely uttering phrases such as “Alexa, please open my garage door,” or, “Alexa, adjust the thermostat to 75 degrees,” the service can talk to other connected devices to make magic happen. Echo Auto, however, opens up an entirely new set of possibilities for road-tripping families.

If you have a smartphone and a vehicle with a cigarette adapter, you’re golden. Just plug the device in, pair with your smartphone and start yapping. The most obvious use here is to let your children play DJ. By asking Alexa to queue up playlists, songs or artists, many miles of open road can zoom by as your little ones take turns asking for the next track.

But it also adds a layer of practicality. Prior to passengers becoming hangry, you can ask Alexa for the best restaurant nearby, specifying whatever type of cuisine you like. Considering that you’re likely passing through unfamiliar territory, Alexa’s ability to tap into reviews and recommendations is a real boon. And, once you hear a name you like, it can trigger navigation as well.

amazon echo auto
Amazon’s Echo Auto could make your family road trips more educational. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

The real fun, however, is in the education and reference department. While kids of yesteryear relied on “I, Spy” and counting cars, colors and license plates, the Echo Auto can turn an otherwise-tedious multi-hour trip to grandma’s house into a makeshift discovery session. Translated, one of the many educational skills available through Alexa allows a passenger to ask for a phrase to be spoken back in a new language. The Curiosity skill allows passengers to learn about a random topic — sort of like spinning the Wikipedia wheel. Alexa will ask you which of two topics interests you more, and after you respond, you’ll get a summary of that topic. Rinse, repeat and the ride is basically over. There’s also a host of games, including Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal and Categories.

It’s unlikely that Amazon built the Echo Auto to create an engaging way for families to connect, interact, laugh and learn while road tripping, but that’s exactly how it turned out. Plus, because it’s portable, you can bring it along for road trips that you fly to. Just make sure to remove it from the rental car before flying back home.

H/T: TechCrunch

Featured image courtesy of Amazon.

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