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Amazon's newest product lets companies build their own Alexa assistant for cars, apps and video games

Kirsten Korosec
·2 min read
Visitors at Amazon Alexa boot during the international electronics and innovation fair IFA in Berlin on September 10, 2019. (Photo by Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Amazon is selling access to the underlying technology stack of Alexa to let companies — starting with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — build their own intelligent assistants with unique voices, skills and wake words.

The new Alexa Custom Assistant product, which was announced Friday, can coexist and cooperate with the Alexa assistant. Theoretically, this means an automaker could choose to use the custom assistant to interact with drivers on specific products and services tied to the vehicle as well as integrate the Alexa voice assistant for other needs. For instance, if a driver asks Alexa to roll down a car window, the request will be routed to the brand's assistant, Amazon explained. If a customer asks the brand's assistant to play an audio book, the request will be routed to Alexa.

Yes, that means your next car could have two Alexas.

Here's a video showing how it works.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be the first Alexa Custom Assistant customer. An FCA-branded intelligent assistant is being built for integration in select vehicle models, according to Amazon.

Amazon's pitch isn't just to automakers, however. The e-commerce giant said it can be used to build intelligent assistants into mobile applications, smart properties, video games and consumer electronics. The Alexa Custom Assistant is based on the Alexa technology stack. The custom wake words are created with the same process used for developing the Alexa wake word. Amazon will give companies access to Alexa's voice science experts to help guide them through the recording process and develop the voice using advanced machine learning algorithms. Developers also have access to Alexa's pre-built capabilities such as communications, local search, traffic and navigation to further accelerate time to market.

The aim of this new product, Amazon says, is to give companies an efficient and cost-effective way of delivering an intelligent assistant to its customers. The path of building an intelligent AI-based assistant is complex, typically involves long development cycles and requires resources to build it from scratch and maintain over time, Amazon argues.

Of course, it's also another way to ensure Alexa is in more devices, even if it goes by another name.