OnStar a la carte Weekly Brief—4.2.2012

In this week's Brief: OnStar, AT&T Labs, Chevrolet, Telogis, Maptuit, Lexus, Continental, BMW, The German Aerospace Centre, TomTom, Bosch, INRIX, HTC, Garmin, and Navteq

OnStar launched its first a la carte service, Family Link, which allows subscribers to stay connected to their loved ones when driving OnStar-equipped vehicles.

Family Link is an optional service that includes a “Vehicle Locate” feature that lets subscribers log on to the Family Link website and view a map with the vehicle’s location on it, and “Vehicle Location Alert,” which sends emails or text messages to subscribers with the location of their vehicles at the time and frequency of their preference.

Subscribers can add it to any existing OnStar package for $3.99 per month.

“OnStar continues to evolve because we spend time listening to our subscribers so that we can develop new technologies and applications that meet their needs,” says OnStar Vice President of Subscriber Services Joanne Finnorn.

“Family Link is the result of OnStar turning what they imagine into a solution they can use.”

AT&T Labs is at work on a solution that harnesses haptics to limit driver distraction. Hapitcs technologies use tactile cues via vibrations to deliver messages to a driver.

Among other capabilities, the lab’s first prototype, a steering wheel, sends vibrations in a clockwise pattern when drivers are supposed to turn right and in a counterclockwise pattern when drivers are supposed to turn left.

One goal is to simplify the delivery of navigation instructions, though the prototype’s “actuators” can deliver numerous patterns to convey messages, like when a car is in a driver’s blind spot. No word yet on when the solution will be street ready.

Chevrolet announced that the 2013 Spark and Sonic will each come equipped with GogoLink, an embedded smartphone app that delivers full-function navigation through the vehicles' MyLink infotainment system.

The cloud-based system will include live traffic updates, emergency information, local search via Google, and 3-D maps. Chevrolet estimates that roughly 90 percent of expected Spark and Sonic buyers own smartphones.

Telogis acquired Maptuit, a leading provider of connected navigation for commercial fleets. The acquisition expands Telogis’ SaaS services to match an uptick in market demand.

Specific enhancements to the Telogis platform include an advanced location-based service engine that receives feedback from the field on road conditions and physical restrictions that may not be captured by commercial and open source map data.

Lexus amped up its infotainment package for the Lexus GS with an ultra-wide LCD multi-information display, which aims to minimize driver eye movement away from the road ahead.

Likewise, a dual screen simultaneously shows two types of information to reduce the necessity of switching between one format and another, while the display is operated by a remote touch interface that resembles a computer mouse for a more intuitive operation.

The navigation system also includes traffic flow and prediction information.

Continental unleashed a second-gen head-up display for the new BMW 3 Series. The head-up display shows relevant information such as speed, navigation and infotainment data, as well as warnings in the driver’s direct field of vision.

The head-up display’s virtual screen appears around two meters in front of the driver above the engine hood, so the driver is informed of all important issues without looking away from the road. The goal is to reduce distraction and increase safety.

The German Aerospace Centre released independent research suggesting that navigation services powered by TomTom’s real-time traffic information save drivers the most time and money.

The study, which included extensive drive tests in and around the city of Berlin, found that products powered by TomTom’s HD Traffic reduce average drive times by 13 percent and up to 30 percent in congested areas.

Other services in the study included the Bosch Navigation App with real-time info provided by INRIX, the “Navigation” App running on a HTC Desire, and the Garmin nüLink! 2340 PND with real-time traffic info provided by Navteq’s “3D Traffic.”


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