Advancing OnStar

Although OnStar is based on telematics technology—it is now rolling out its ninth-generation hardware—one of the key differentiators between it and other systems—be they OEM or after-market based—is the fact that the business that General Motors executives (past and present) are undoubtedly glad they didn’t sell or close has a human element to it, the OnStar “advisors.” About them, OnStar president said, “One aspect of our business that will never change is our live advisors who are just a simple button press away.

Although OnStar is based on telematics technology—it is now rolling out its ninth-generation hardware—one of the key differentiators between it and other systems—be they OEM or after-market based—is the fact that the business that General Motors executives (past and present) are undoubtedly glad they didn’t sell or close has a human element to it, the OnStar “advisors.”

About them, OnStar president said, “One aspect of our business that will never change is our live advisors who are just a simple button press away. They are what set us apart, and they’ll continue to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a we O ek.”

While it is easy to scale technology, it isn’t so easy to scale people who can perform OnStar safety and security tasks, particularly when it involves training and certification through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED).

Still, OnStar is a tech play, and as such, yesterday it unveiled a couple of capabilities that it is presently testing out:

Audio Facebook Updates. That’s right. If you really feel that you’ve just got to get something on your Wall—cheap gas prices? short line at the McDonald’s drive through?—then it may be that you’ll be able to do so audibly via OnStar. This is thanks, in part, to a new IT infrastructure, the Advanced Telematics Operations Management System.

Voice Texting. They’re undertaking voice-based SMS (short message service) that would allow users to have their text messages “read” to them. This would involve connecting one’s phone to the vehicle via Bluetooth so that received messages could be read, then hitting a button on the steering wheel that would permit replying to a text by verbally selecting a preset response.

One can only hope that if this technology makes it, drivers will pay as much attention to their driving as the OnStar technicians have to developing new capabilities such that those NAED-trained advisors won’t have to be called into play.