Spotify’s Car Thing voice hardware begins limited testing

Today marks the first day of testing for Spotify’s Car Thing. Spotify’s newest endeavor and first piece of hardware is meant to educate the company on how people listen to audio while driving. A few lucky Premium users got the device for free as testing rolled out.

Car Thing plugs into a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet for power and connects to both the car and a phone over Bluetooth. It is linked to the user’s Spotify account and has access to all of their music playlists and podcasts. To activate the device, the user simply says, “Hey, Spotify” and makes their request for what they’d like to hear. Car Thing appears to have a small screen to show what is currently playing, as well as buttons that reportedly connect to preset user playlists.

Testing is only occurring in the United States for now, and there’s no public outline of how long the test will run. Spotify also made clear that it has no plans to make Car Thing a consumer product any time soon, if at all. That said, Spotify confirmed that may run additional tests in the future and told consumers not to be surprised if we hear about Home Thing and Voice Thing for future data-driven audio tests.

The company’s objective is to get a deeper understanding of how people consume audio, including music and podcasts, in various places and situations. Spotify wants to continue to give users the perfect audio experience and will not be greatly shifting its focus to hardware. The data will simply inform the company of consumer habits and perhaps provide insight for products to greenlight or what to develop next. With Americans spending a reported 70 billion hours spent behind the wheel each year, Spotify aims to help make those endless hours of driving a bit more enjoyable.