Amazon’s Alexa AI has been taking our homes by storm, but now she’s ready to move beyond the living room. Amazon teamed up with Garmin to create the Garmin Speak, a new Alexa device designed specifically for your car.
The Garmin Speak is a 1.5-inch cylinder that mounts to your windshield. Using the device, you can do everything you’re accustomed to with your Amazon Echo: stream playlists or podcasts, get news or traffic updates, add events to your calendar, or create to-do lists. However, the Speak also works with the (free) Garmin Speak app for turn-by-turn directions. On its small black display, it also shows lane guidance arrows and upcoming turns. To get directions to a specific location, you just ask the device “Alexa, ask Garmin … “.
To take advantage of all of its features, you will need to download the Garmin Speak app in addition to Amazon’s Alexa app. In there, much like you would with Google Maps, you can set up the locations of your home, work, or school. Once that’s done, you can quickly navigate to those spots from anywhere. And if you’re heading somewhere that’s too complicated to speak out loud, you can also input the location directly into the app and still get turn-by-turn directions from the Speak.
As opposed to other Alexa-imbued devices that contain their own speakers, the Garmin Speak routes audio through your car’s speakers over Bluetooth or through an auxiliary port. The Speak is also dependent on your phone and its LTE connection. If you forget your phone at home, you won’t be able to use the Speak or its navigation features.
And while it mounts much like a dash cam, the Speak is purely an Alexa device. There’s no camera onboard.
The Garmin Speak seems like it could be a good solution for getting directions while you’re driving without the distraction of a smartphone screen. In other Alexa products, the onboard mics and speakers are tuned well enough to pick up your voice from across a room. As long as Garmin has done a good job of picking up your voice over the sounds of road traffic, it could make driving to new places a little less stressful and a little more safe. (I’m looking at you, Uber driver staring at her phone while weaving all over the road.)
The Garmin Speak costs $149.99 and is available through Best Buy and Amazon.
H/T Ars Technica