Home » Nobody Is Asking For Animated Digital Car Assistants So Someone Should Tell BMW And Mini That

Nobody Is Asking For Animated Digital Car Assistants So Someone Should Tell BMW And Mini That

Mini Spike
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Remember BMW’s Dee, that AI smiley-face avatar thing that BMW pretended took over their social media feeds a few months ago? Remember how everyone thought, wow, this is amazing and will change human-machine interactions for the better, forever and always? No? Huh, I wonder why that is? Oh wait, now I remember, it’s because everyone thought it was stupid and eye-roll-y and no one gave a shit because why the hell would they? Nobody is asking for a sassy AI personality for their car that helps you turn on your wipers or some shit. Nobody wants that. Somehow, though, BMW didn’t believe us, and has now instructed its Mini sub-brand to try something similar, with a cute dog-avatar named Spike. Okay, great, but, again, no one wants this. You know how I know? Remember Clippy? Of course you do. Are you a big fan of Clippy? Do you miss interacting with Clippy? Hell no. Nobody does. [Editor’s Note: I kinda like the dog? -DT]. 

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Yes, Clippy, the little animated paper clip avatar that was Microsoft’s “virtual assistant” for its popular word processor, Word, that managed to bring the whole computer-using world together in the welcoming siblinghood of annoyance. Nobody liked Clippy. From the very beginning, even. A cloying paperclip with eyeballs that popped up and made a lot of assumptions about what you were doing and offered unsolicited advice about how to do it just isn’t something that human beings seem to desire when doing, oh, anything.

Were Clippy a living being we’d all be murderers, staring at the pile of mangled wire and the strangely warm eyeballs in our hands. I think humanity has collectively given on-screen Virtual Assistant avatar things a pretty fair go, andI really can’t fathom why BMW/Mini thinks anyone wants more of that.

I mean, does this make you want a new car?

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I can’t fathom how it would. Which is why I can’t fathom why BMW is pushing ahead with Spike, which you can see in action here:

Sure, Spike is cute. And, at least in these ads, he’s not talking, but I’m kind of afraid he might. Probably with a cartoonish British accent, too. Here’s what Mini has to say about Spike:

Spike will also be appearing as an active protagonist in the cockpit of the new MINI Concept Aceman. The new Spike mode sets the perfect stage for the digital companion, who is presenting to the public for the first time on the circular OLED central display and dashboard. MINI will enable comprehensive insights into the digital world of the new model family and Spike’s diverse functions in the further course of 2023.

“MINI will always be synonymous with emotions and remarkable experiences,” said Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design. “That’s why we are now taking Spike into the future as a digital character. And he is not just a design experiment – he is becoming a characterful companion for the user experience.”

Active. Protagonist. No thanks.

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Look, the design is great, and I’m sure they have all kinds of talented people working on this, and that all just makes me feel bad because I can’t see any way that this will be anything other than doomed. Has this team at Mini you know, met people? Did they do a focus group and ask people what they want in a car, and found people saying that what they’d really like is some cloying animated something to pop up and talk to them about what they may be doing in the car? Because if so, who the fuck were they talking to? And how are those people recovering from their head traumas?

[Editor’s Note: It’s not clear to me why Jason is so angry at this cute two-tone dog. I think it’s fun! -DT]. 

Is there any scenario where a person will go on a test drive of a Spike-equipped future Mini and not have one of their first questions be “So, how do I turn all this off? All the shit with the dog?

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Nobody is clamoring for this. People want fun, practical EVs that aren’t all so damn expensive. They want them to be fun to drive and comfortable and easy and fast to charge and look cool and let them play whatever media they want from their own devices and maybe easily talk to the people they want and when it comes to doing shit with their car, they just want to do it, ideally without striking up a conversation with some animated whatever, because everybody has better shit to do.

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People have plenty of emotional connections with their cars, and trying to force that into something a brand thinks is cute or charming or whatever pretty much never works.

This is just Clippy, in your car. It’s Clippy all over again. Nobody wants this, BMW. Put your money somewhere else, cut your losses, and move ahead. It’ll be fine.

[Mercedes’ Note: Even Smart has an animated digital car assistant thing in its new electric SUVs. It’s a fox (below) and it’s 110 percent just a gimmick.]

Smart 1 2023 1600 76

 

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Just don’t give us fucking Clippy for cars, okay?

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Greg
Greg
1 year ago

Mini’s are not good cars. I rented one once to see all the hype, it wasn’t fast, it wasn’t comfortable and I couldn’t see anything. The cars suck. They are built on hype and “being cute” and that fad went away years ago. And check out those prices!!!

Shocked they still exist honestly, I haven’t seen a new one in ages around here. BMW has really lost it’s course, and don’t see any around here anymore except for a SUV once and a while.

Anyone even know anyone who has bought a BMW sedan in the last 5 years? 10?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

I guess you could say…

Domino’s killed the radio star.

(•_•)
( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

Will there be other dogs to choose from? I want a gruff Scottie to complain “I cannae give yeh any moar, Cap’n! She cannae taek the stress!” every time I floor the throttle.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

I would prefer one that if you ask any question not relating to medicine, Deforest Kelly says “Damnit Jim, I’m a doctor not a *insert any other job here*”.

Teokiya
Teokiya
1 year ago

There was something in The Guardian a while back where they interviewed designers of things people hated. One of them was Clippy’s and he said that the hate faded after a while and now people who talk to him are mostly nostalgic for it…

Greg
Greg
1 year ago
Reply to  Teokiya

Cue Darryl trying to update his resume and calling microsoft

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Teokiya

There was something in The Guardian a while back where they interviewed designers of things people hated. One of them was Clippy’s and he said that the hate faded after a while and now people who talk to him are mostly nostalgic for it…

“At one point he was annoying hundreds of millions of people a day, which was kind of funny,” said Clippy illustrator Kevan Atteberry. So it’s no surprise that he became rather detested by some.

“They f***ing hate him! And you know what, that’s fine. Any press is good press. But to be honest, not everybody hates him. I get a dozen pieces of fan mail from people that just loved Clippy,” he told Motherboard earlier this year.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/design/microsofts-clippy-was-one-of-the-most-hated-features-ever-but-distance-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder/news-story/772605472436e0f6860fd04e4cf1b6dd

A few dozen fans out of hundreds of millions of haters. Jefery Dahlmer had a bigger fan club than Clippy.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

It’s the year 2047, I’m driving ( I use the term “driving” loosely here, I’m mostly just sitting in a luxurious pod while it gets me to where I need to go) my old car to trade it in at Statler Toyota for a new MX-9er 56ie Lariat “Signifier” edition.

Suddenly the airbags go off in my face for no raisin, at 87 miles an hour.
Right as I’m brushing my teeth and chauffeur bot (I forget what Audi called it, I called it chauffeur bot) is braiding my hair for me from the back seat.

Now I’m just a sad brain in a jar connected to the internet of the past somehow.

Because she didn’t want to be traded in.
I knew the relationship was becoming a problem when she stopped letting me control the rolling up and down of the windows to my liking.

I wholeheartedly agree with this “Torch” fellow on this one.

We don’t need this. In fact, we should rally against this.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Matthew Humphrey
Matthew Humphrey
1 year ago

I, too, tend to go off in your face for No Raisin!
Big Raisin is out to prune us.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

And juice us, which makes no sense.
Why would you dry a fruit out before attempting to juice it?
Never was a raisin man.
Seems like more of a problem than a solution.

Just like Spike there.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

Get yourself together man. Now we must escape this planet.
For no raisin.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

Sounds like sour grapes to me. I’m perfectly happy with my 2041 Changlivrolet 13e Lambert “Antediluvian” edition. It was the last year you could get a REAL rubber-band CVT in a passenger car!

…the automated assistant, which looks like an autojournalist merged with a stack of lead-acid batteries, pounding at the screen screaming “consign me to the void if there is mercy in your soul,” is pretty easy to mute, too.

Marteau
Marteau
1 year ago

You are jocking but on the new m2, the windows are a.i operated….

Winsome Badger
Winsome Badger
1 year ago
Reply to  Marteau

And “ai” is in the middle of “raisin”. Which probably means something. Sounds raisinable

Sparkausarus
Sparkausarus
1 year ago

Now watch them connect the dog to chatGpt

Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
1 year ago

I can’t stand Siri, let alone an animated version of that. If I accidental engage it, it’s immediately met with ‘fuck off Siri’, which elicits an ‘I will not respond to that’ which only enrages me more. How dare an inanimate object act superior to my base, emotion driven language.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Until the digital assistant is in the form of a hologram I can use for companionship and driving in carpool lanes, I’m not interested

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
1 year ago

It worked, it has inspired emotions and is a remarkably *crappy* experience.

B3n
B3n
1 year ago

2023: Animated dog on the dashboard and now you can order pizza on your infotainment.
A truly bizarre timeline.

Groover
Groover
1 year ago
Reply to  B3n

don’t forget that you can use Afterpay when you order your pizza from your infotainment for some extra dystopian magic

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 year ago
Reply to  Groover

…but can you slice your pizza with a 2023 Mini? I’m pretty sure you can’t, so for now I’ll continue to lust after a Series I Land Rover.

Last edited 1 year ago by Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  B3n

And yet there is still no good way to cook hot dogs and toast buns from the driver’s seat. If only…

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

I wouldn’t worry about it. BMW is moving to make everything subscription based. Oh, you want the power seat controls to work? You must subscribe for that, please. Just don’t pay for the dog. Of course, given their history, it would be like the Germans to make the dog mandatory and you’d have to pay to get rid of it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Canopysaurus
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

> given their history, it would be like the Germans to make the dog mandatory and you’d have to pay to get rid of it.

What decade of their history we talkin?

Matthew Skwarczek
Matthew Skwarczek
1 year ago

Does this mean weebs will be able to get the girl from Suki’s S2000 to appear on their dashes?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago

Can the dog be changed to the pile of crap emoji instead?

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

dont give Elon any ideas.

Paul Brogger
Paul Brogger
1 year ago

On the plus side: It may actually make possible opening the glove box?

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 year ago

I have never driven a BMW or a modern MINI (as opposed to a vintage Mini). I guess now I know what I’ve been missing.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 year ago

It’s freakin’ adorable!!!!! It also looks seriously distracting. Do you interact with it by speaking? I would feel bad about asking this little pup for some of the songs in my library.

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
1 year ago

This will appeal to the TikTok folk. I predict it won’t out-live Microsoft Bob March 10, 1995 – August 30, 1995. Give me Max Headroom.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

M M M Max Headroom is the ONLY animated assistant I’d actually want in my car, with all his snarky, whacky personality.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dar Khorse
Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago

I watched the video. 50 seconds of my life shot to hell.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago

These would be great if they aged in “car years” becoming
crusty cigar chomping versions of themselves like Eddy Murphy’s Gumby on SNL.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
1 year ago

No – just, no.

Active protagonist? No. What kind of useless corporate-speak is this? If I go the rest of my life without hearing buzzwords like “engagement”, “mobility”, and “experience” it’ll be too soon.

Characterful companion for the user experience? No. It’s already bad enough when I’m trying to be a responsible driver trying to use voice commands for hands free and the stupid thing just won’t do it. I don’t need to add the indignity of some stupid cutesy character making me want to punch its face in frustration just to cap the whole experience.

Wow, this brought out my inner curmudgeon. I think I need a good whiff of Connolly leather to erase this from my memory.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Agreed…or Corinthian leather

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
1 year ago

These may not be to everyone’s taste, but I can see some entertainment value in them.

That makes them far less annoying than the cluttered touch screens that are replacing every switch and gauge, or even generic voice command systems that lack a focal point which makes anyone using them feel vaguely schizophrenic…

Last edited 1 year ago by Rapgomi
JunkInTheFrunk
JunkInTheFrunk
1 year ago

I kind of love the idea of a customizable personal assistant embodying the soul of your car. Flawless execution of voice commands with a fun visualization and a little personality seems like a great idea.

We hated Clippy (and Bonzai Buddy) for being worthless and unhelpful, not for being fun. My only fear is that most of them will end up being furries and anime cat girls.

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
1 year ago

The premise is wrong, the Chinese want animated assistants in their cars and companies there are already developing them as well.

Gee See
Gee See
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

Look at Bjorn Nyland on Youtube reviewing Nio brand of car.. it has a real life avatar / assistant called Nomi.

Though I have to say I would attribute the origin of this to a Japanese Anime called Cyberformula.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gee See
Thevenin
Thevenin
1 year ago
Reply to  Gee See

Came here to mention Nio. Despite Nio’s attempt to humanize Nomi in the ET7 with a gimbal-mounted face, it’s still the most staggeringly tone-deaf addition.

Imagine thinking that what consumers really want is a pre-pubescent child interrupting conversations to tell them that they’re driving their car wrong.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 year ago

This is 21st century bullshit…Like the Wizard of Oz mentality. Just build decent, reliable and fair priced cars please. Forget all the other games. Jesus help us, and take the wheel whilst I smash this fucking display. Feeling better now.

WOV
WOV
1 year ago

Let’s also talk about any of our lived experience with BMW’s existing, dead simple, iPhone and Android apps. Mine took many many years to stop reading meeting room names from my upcoming appointments, (say “Kigali”) shoving them into the routing app and then telling me OH S**T BETTER LEAVE NOW IT’S A 200 HOUR DRIVE. Then they took away the car locator functions, and I think, the lock/unlock? with some random update.

Last edited 1 year ago by WOV
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