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Quick Note: OnStar Potential

March 30, 2012

Today’s Note is a quick link to an ExtremeTech.com article about some potential future product offerings from OnStar.

OnStar is planning on marketing some vehicle tracking services. More interesting though, is this passage about enabling high speed internet access to your car, which is a potential offering of the more distant future for OnStar:

OnStar’s Schwinke also showed off a Chevrolet Volt Verizon 4G LTE car as a teaser for what GM could do in the future with OnStar. (Not every day can you sit in a plug-in hybrid and stare out the windshield at an indoor swimming pool.) The demo didn’t work perfectly, but then it was a demo (running Android). What OnStar is on the cusp of providing is a high-speed link to your home PC and data, to streaming Netflix movies in the back seat (a pair of tablets connected by USB and Bluetooth were attached to the front headrests). With the swipe of a finger, content could be started on the center stack screen and pushed to one of the rear tablets (mom and dad start the movie in front, the toddler watches in back). There was the obligatory Angry Birds app, Skype, Twitter, and the usual-suspect streaming entertainment services such as Pandora. The demo car thus had two cellular connections: the affordable 2G OnStar telematics system for crash notification and turn by turn directions, and the 4G implant for high speed services.

OnStar’s biggest challenge isn’t debugging the last bit of the 4G demo, but a federal government worried, perhaps even paranoid about driver distraction. This week’s blast from the National Transportation Safety Board was an emailed release from chairman Deborah Hersman: “If the technology producers focused more on what is safe than what sells, we’d see highway fatalities go down.” That was in conjunction with a distracted driver forum this week in Washington. The automakers may say it’s not as unsafe as the feds claim. A fallback position may be that when you outlaw apps from the dashboard, motorists will go back to texting and text-reading on their cellphones, and that has to be more dangerous still. [italicized passage quoted from article]

It’s an interesting article, and I recommend a quick read.

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