Most new cars coming out these days seem to have some or the other AI-based voice assistant integrations. The existing options to enjoy such luxury in older cars are either complicated, expensive or both. Anker, well known for being the leading brand in mobile chargers, has decided to solve this issue with a new and affordable device that will not only charge your smartphone but will also bring Amazon’s Alexa to your car. This comes in the form of the Roav VIVA; a smart car charger that will integrate Alexa into any car as long as the audio system supports Bluetooth streaming.
The Roav VIVA looks like any regular plug-and-play car charger for smartphones. It has two USB ports on the side of a large square face and plugs into the standard 12-volt car outlet. These ports will support most major smartphones as they come equipped with Anker’s PowerIQ high-speed charging technology. The large square-ish head of the Roav VIVA basically functions as a tiny Echo Dot. It has two voice isolating microphones on either side that ensures that Alexa will accurately pick up on anything you say. It connects to the car’s audio system via Bluetooth 4.1 and offers the complete Alexa skills package with music streaming, navigation and smart home controls. The head of the device also has a mute button right in the centre.
To offer all of the smart capabilities of Alexa, you need to download the Roav VIVA companion app that will connect the Roav VIVA to your smartphone. It will connect to the internet through your phone’s data. This means that it is not a stand-alone device. Also according to a comment by Anker on the official Roav VIVA product page on Amazon.com, “Roav VIVA only supports voice-activated calling with phone. Alexa calling and messaging will be considered in the near future.” This is not a significant issue considering that the Roav VIVA comes in at just $49.99 on the website and will begin shipping in February.
This is a fair bit less compared to the Garmin Speak, which offers similar functionalities (without charging though) at a $119.99 price tag on Amazon right now (around Rs.12,000 in India after shipping). Pricing and availability of the Roav VIVA for India and other countries are currently unknown.