Hyundai Unveils Digital Showroom on Amazon

Yesterday was Amazon’s self-proclaimed shopping holiday — “Prime Day” or, as we like to call it, “the Lonesome Christmas.” But you already knew that, because our corporate overlords mandated a reminder necessary to help procure the revenue that yields us the modestly priced vehicles and canned soups we’ve become accustomed to.

Unfortunately, if you were surfing the website in the hopes if finding a good deal on an automobile, you were out of luck. Amazon didn’t have cars as of yesterday, but it’s making swift progress on that. The digital retailer launched a research site in 2016 that allowed customers to gather information while amassing auto parts, accessories, and tools — which can be purchased and delivered to your home.

The site is now taking things a step further, adding real cars. As of July 18th, its partnership with Hyundai extends beyond just Alexa integration via the automaker’s Blue Link technology. Amazon Vehicles promotes actual, physical cars, allowing you to browse and customize them much like you would a pair of pants, via a virtual showroom.

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Automakers Need to Improve Voice Command Systems ASAP

Amazon’s Echo has already invaded homes across North America, but it’s now beginning to creep into vehicle infotainment systems. My parents have one and both are quite fond of its ability to answer basic queries through intuitive voice commands. Though my mother refers to the system as my father’s “new wife,” it prefers to be addressed as Alexa when being issued instructions. If you need another point of reference, it’s reminiscent of Apple’s Siri, the computer from Star Trek, and any other automated technology using a female voice as the primary interface.

However, as handy as these systems are, they sometimes make mistakes. Alexa is great at giving me the weather but, when you give her more complex requests, she’ll sometimes get confused. That’s not a big problem when you are able to whip out your phone and go online, but it can be real annoying when driving. Early voice command interfaces in automobiles were infuriating — it was often easier to give up and input whatever information you were trying to shout at Ford Sync, BMW iDrive, or whatever decade-old system you happened to be using.

Thankfully, voice recognition is far better now than it was in 2008. But with so many concerns about automotive safety cropping up, it’s a little surprising that nobody has yet perfected an interface that effectively allows motorists to keep their hands where they belong — on the wheel.

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