Amazon assists SEAT with voice-command software

Spanish automobile manufacturer SEAT is the first automotive brand in Europe to install Amazon Alexa in its vehicles.

SEAT has begun equipping its new Leon and Ateca 2019 models with Amazon’s cloud-based, voice-operated electronic assistant service to give customers an array of functions through “effortless” voice commands.

Amazon Alexa was launched in 2014, has more than 45,000 skills, and a considerable amount of developers working towards expanding its usefulness.

Convenience and security

Drivers of the new vehicles can activate Alexa’s voice-command software by pressing the control button on their steering wheels and speaking.

Nevertheless, Alexa being built into the vehicles may add security issues, according to David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

“Everyone wants to enjoy the convenience of new gadgets, but there needs to be a compromise between convenience and security,” says Emm. “This new technology represents a proliferation of devices holding and sending/receiving personal data, so car manufacturers need to ensure that this technology is secure.”

Alexa can be demanded to play music, navigate to a new destination, give out personalised news bulletins and much more.

Powered by AI

“Since the technology behind the Amazon Echo is powered by AI, it stores command history to help make the device “smarter”. That way, it can better respond to future commands. While the reasoning behind storing command data is sound, imagine what could go wrong if someone else could get access to that?” continues Emm.

“Even if Amazon doesn’t do anything questionable with your interactions whilst you are in your vehicle, it does store them in the cloud, which isn’t totally hacker-proof. Manufacturers must do everything to ensure that the network cannot be compromised.
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Owners of Leon and Ateca vehicles can already gain access to Alexa’s key functions by downloading SEAT’s Media Control app, which works in conjunction with the Amazon Alexa app.

Amazon is also currently working towards the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for Alexa to start providing healthcare advice and information.

Written by Leah Alger

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