You'll never have to road trip alone with Chris, your digital co-driver

A digital co-driver voice assistant from German Autolabs, just went live with its Kickstarter campaign. German Autolabs’ hope is that “Chris” will become the “Alexa of the automotive world,” referring to Amazon Echo’s Alexa voice assistant.

The basic concept is that Chris will pair with your smartphone so you can use it for communication, entertainment, and navigation, all hands free. However, German Autolabs wants to go a lot further than most hands-free smartphone audio accessories. One difference is that you can interact with your digital co-driver with gestures as well as voice. For example, you can use hand gestures to raise or lower music volume. The greatest difference, however, is the company’s use of artificial intelligence to enhance speech recognition that can improve with experience with a specific driver.

According to CEO Holder Weiss:  “While automotive manufacturers like Tesla, Lexus, Audi, and BMW pursue building connected vehicles over the next several years, consumer demand for AI-enabled technology is rapidly on the rise today. Drivers and passengers can have this AI-powered technology at their disposal now, and with a low barrier to entry both in installation and cost. Chris works in every car, regardless of the age or model.”

The hardware module mounts on the windshield or dashboard. Chris has a full-color display so messages or statuses are available at a glance. The device has a lithium-ion battery with one week of standby battery life and one hour of operation time. A USB Type-C port on the back connects to recharge the battery and to run Chris while connected to a power source. The navigation feature works with or without a phone connection, which adds to its versatility.

According to German Autolabs, Chris is scheduled to ship to backers in December 2017. The device will be produced by ISO certified manufacturers and certified for use in all cars. Chris will retail for $300 when it launches at the end of the year, but special pricing discounts of up to 40 percent are available during the Kickstarter Campaign.