BMW introducing voice-activated digital assistant


Beginning in March 2019, select new BMWs will have a digital co-pilot onboard. The German luxury brand announced Thursday the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant will help drivers and passengers with a host of functions in the car.

The Intelligent Personal Assistant can work in a variety of different ways. In the car, it will respond to commands after occupants say, "Hey BMW." Outside the vehicle, the Intelligent Personal Assistant is compatible with smart speakers and smartphones to integrate into an owner's ecosystem.

The system handles the basics such as climate control, music selection, and navigation routes, but it goes beyond those commands. Drivers and passengers can ask the system things such as "What's the meaning of life?" should he or she feel philosophical, or they can issue more general commands such as "Hey BMW, I'm tired." The latter will tell the digital personal assistant to adjust the lighting, music, and cabin temperature to keep the driver more alert and focused.

It can be integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and Skype For Business to make the car a mobile office. Drivers can even give their co-pilot a name to respond to, should they desire.

With every command and question, the assistant learns the driver more and develops the ability to understand a driver's preferences and favorite settings; the system can remember often-frequented places and recognize commands like "take me home." It all combines to create an owner's BMW ID, which the brand said "links the car to the customer and their digital world."

BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant

BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant

In the future, BMW said the system could warn drivers of things such as low tire pressure, remind them of upcoming service appointments, and even book appointments for them.

The system comes as a direct response to Mercedes-Benz's User Experience (MBUX) system, which also has the ability to process various commands in more plain English than ever.

The digital assistant will be available with cars that have the Live Cockpit Professional or BMW's Operating System 7.0. Buyers will be able to order it beginning in November 2018 in the new 3-Series, and choosing the Connected Package Professional will expand its scope of functions. Next year, the BMW X5, Z4, and 8-Series models fitted with the BMW Operating System 7.0 will be able to get the full version with an over-the-air update.

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