Logitech has introduced an update to its ZeroTouch in-car mobile app which integrates the system with Alexa. The combination of hands-free control by gesture and voice, and home automation via Amazon’s AI assistant, will open up new potential for the in-car mobile market, says Logitech.
ZeroTouch is available in two forms, air vent and dashboard, and triggers its Android voice-controlled app when the driver docks the phone in the car. With this combination the driver can hear and respond to an incoming text, and operate select apps such as navigation and music, completely hands free. Logitech describes this as delivering ‘the best features of a connected car, without buying a new car’.
The hardware is powered by a battery which lasts around 3 years and is user-replaceable.
Voice control can be used to place calls, dictate and send text messages, have incoming messages read to you aloud, stream music using Spotify, input a destination with popular navigation apps such as Google Maps, and share your location with friends and family through the Glympse location service.
The ZeroTouch app is woken with a wave of the hand, and voice recognition is designed to understand natural language. To eliminate errors, the app reads any dictated text back to you before sending. The app automatically informs you of incoming texts, and allows the driver to listen, respond or cancel without ever looking at or touching the phone. Depending on the streaming music app, the driver can request specific artists, songs, playlists, or genres, and give commands like “pause” and “skip.”
‘New car owners can experience the luxury of a connected car, but there are still tens of millions of older cars on the road,’ said Bracken Darrell, Logitech president and chief executive officer. ‘As we look for ways to design products that are thoughtful solutions to human needs, we realised there was a desire to turn any car into a connected car. The result is the Logitech ZeroTouch. The smart mount and app work together to give you the best features of a connected car, while keeping your eyes on the road. We believe ZeroTouch will play a crucial role in turning the ‘look down and text’, into the ’look up and talk.’’
ZeroTouch is available in the UK exclusively through Carphone Warehouse. Dean Kramer, director of accessories said, ‘The Logitech ZeroTouch is a perfect addition to our growing accessories range and we’re really excited to be Logitech’s exclusive retail partner and the first to launch ZeroTouch in the UK market. We know our customers are going to love the flexibility this product gives you when it comes to hands free mobile use, not just in the car but also in the home.’
Logitech will continue to add new features to ZeroTouch, including an upcoming integration with emails applications. This update, available later in September, will allow you to be notified of incoming emails and have them read aloud – so you can check your mail without taking your eyes off the road.
ZeroTouch is compatible with Android smartphones running Android OS 4.4 or later, and requires an active Bluetooth and data connection. The ZeroTouch Air Vent and ZeroTouch Dashboard are available now at £49.99 and £59.99 respectively. Currently Carphone Warehouse has an offer on both, with the ZeroTouch Air Vent mount at £24.99, and ZeroTouch Dashboard for £29.99 for the month of February.
Now a free update to the ZeroTouch app has brought Amazon Alexa compatibility to the system.
The Alexa options are designed to operate seamlessly with the ZeroTouch app - simply say ‘Alexa’ before issuing a command and the app initiates operation of the driver’s home Alexa system. This accesses more than 8,000 Alexa skills including weather reports, to-do lists, Kindle books, product ordering, news, jokes and control of smart devices such as lighting, thermostats and access control in the home.
‘This Amazon collaboration gives the Logitech ZeroTouch even more superpowers,’ said Patric Frank, head of new ventures at Logitech. ‘Now, the possibilities are endless - even while on the road. The marriage of Logitech ZeroTouch and Alexa make it possible for drivers to not only use their voice to control more than just their smartphone, but all smart devices kept at home, before they even get there.’
‘We’re excited to collaborate with Logitech to bring Alexa into the vehicle,’ said Aaron Brown, director of Amazon Alexa. ‘Voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars.’
At a demo in London, Logitech’s Vadim Kogan, head of strategic partnerships for smartphone group, told Mobile that the one-off payment, lack of subscription costs and continuing updates made ZeroTouch an attractive option for Alexa users - ‘You don’t even need to have Echo or Dot at home to use it, just an e-mail address registered with Amazon’ he said. ‘It’s traditionally difficult to sell safety products as they’re not seen as ‘sexy’, but this is a £50 product that could avoid a fine or an accident - and compared to a £10 car-mount, it’s not much of an additional investment.’
Asked whether ZeroTouch could have provided charging or hot-spot functions, Kogan explained ‘No, it’s not intended to do anything your phone can’t. Of course it’s dependent on network coverage, and this can be a problem on UK roads. But we think ZeroTouch is perfect in terms of shape, weight, wireless design and price as it is.’
Logitech confirmed that it was ‘working on other partnerships’, but there’s no news yet of an iOS version of ZeroTouch, and this could conflict with Apple’s promotion of its Siri ecosystem.
The updated ZeroTouch app with the Alexa feature is expected to be available this week in the US and UK, free on the Google Play store. Users need an Amazon account to access the newest Alexa feature within the ZeroTouch app.