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Word. Ian Gibson of Auckland City BMW

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Auckland City BMW Managing Director Ian Gibson offers some insight into the highly intelligent and fast-adapting technology behind BMW and its latest Intelligent Personal Assistant.

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but I’m finding that while it makes tasks easier, it does not always make our lives any less complex. The cars we drive are a good example of this – the systems are complex and even distracting, and a driver is faced with a multitude of screens, buttons and controls.

We know that a driver absolutely wants to be able to extend their digital lifestyle into an automobile – but in a safe and non-complicated manner.

So, from March next year, we will have an intelligent, digital character on board – the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.

For BMW this is the start of a new era in which drivers will be able to operate their car and access its functions and information simply by speaking. But you won’t have to say “Hey BMW”, to wake it up – you can give the Personal Assistant any name you want, for this article let’s call her Ruby.

Ruby will learn your routines and habits, and then apply them in the appropriate context. She will help you by learning your preferences and the settings you like to have. For instance your favourite seat heating or the places you navigate to frequently (“Hey Ruby, take me home”).

Ruby is of course familiar with the vehicle’s functions and is able to operate them as required. Saying “Hey Ruby, I’m cold” will prompt a rise in temperature inside the car accordingly. Ruby is able to learn more and more preferences and favourite settings in future. She gets better and better with every command given, every question asked and every setting made.

With so much technology in BMW vehicles, it can be overwhelming to remember how to use it all! Having a BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant means there is always a real BMW pro on board. She will be able to explain all sorts of different functions (“Ruby, how does the High Beam Assistant work?”) and provide current status information (“Ruby, is the oil level okay?”). She knows the driver’s favourite settings, and can even activate a combination of them for their greater well-being. For instance, “Hey Ruby, I feel tired” triggers a vitality programme that adjusts the lighting mood, music and temperature, among other things, in order to make the driver feel more awake. And not only does she await the driver’s every command, she can even provide some casual conversation (“Hey Ruby, what’s the meaning of life?”).

Ruby is the ideal co-driver and comes in particularly useful during every day driving. If you allow her to access your appointment calendar and contacts, she will find you somewhere to park at your destination, provide information on any traffic jams along the route and remind you when it is time to set off. By integrating Ruby into Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business means she can hook you in to teleconferences at your request or read out emails, thereby transforming your BMW into a voice-controlled mobile office. Ruby is an entertainment expert too, she can instantly identify the song currently playing on the radio or search the stations for the desired type of music (“Ruby, play classical music, please”).

We are really getting to a point where a car will be your mobile office – and for someone who travels in Auckland traffic – this can only mean increased productivity!