JBL is building a small conduit called the ‘Link Drive’ that plugs into a user’s car so drivers and passengers can connect with Google Assistant without fiddling with their phone.
The Link Drive plugs into a car’s 12-volt input. It then connects to your vehicle through either Bluetooth or an aux cable. Built into the conduit are noise cancelling microphones so the device can work even if a car’s windows are down.
To connect the device to the internet, users need to link it to the Google Assistant app on their phone.
To talk to the device, users can use the “Okay, Google” hot word or tap a little button on top to make it listen.
Users can ask the Link Drive to perform regular Google Assistant actions like setting timers, taking notes or navigating home. However, it’s unclear if navigation will be carried out through voice prompts or if the device will display a map on users’ phone screens.
This device is similar to Anker’s Roav Bolt. The main difference between the two plugs is that the Roav Bolt has two USB-A ports for device charging, while the Link Drive only has one.
The JBL Link Drive will be available sometime in spring 2019 for $60 USD (roughly, $80 CAD).
Ambient computing has been exploding since smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo hit the market, and they’ve gotten to a point where they’re starting to expand into new territories like cars.
Even though both Amazon and Google are finding ways to bring their digital assistant to users’ cars, Google has a leg up since its Android Auto platform is an already available infotainment platform.
On top of that, Google is even building bespoke infotainment units for Volvo based on Android Pie. The Google-Volvo collaboration will incorporate Google Assistant to control and monitor vehicle aspects like cabin heat/AC and seat height.