OnStar voice communications app
What: OnStar is launching a public pilot test in January 2011 of an OnStar voice communications app for Android mobile phones. Via a Bluetooth connection between their phone and their vehicle, drivers can send and receive text messages and Facebook updates using only their voices – keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Why: Research indicates that 42 percent of all drivers have texted while driving (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2009), which has emerged as a major safety concern in recent years. With the OnStar voice communications
app, there is no need to look away from the road or take hands off the wheel to get incoming messages or send outgoing messages As more and more drivers pair their Bluetooth phones with their vehicles, OnStar wants to add value to the mobile connection and offer a safer and easy alternative for staying connected while driving.
When: Full launch is planned for later in the first half of 2011 through the Android Market, after thorough research and testing; cost to be determined.
Incoming SMS text messages and Facebook updates are converted from text to synthetic speech by the app, then sent via Bluetooth to the vehicle's speakers or to the speakers in the OnStar retail product.
Drivers can respond by voice through the in-vehicle or retail product microphone in several ways:
o Select by voice command among a list of defined messages, such as "Yes," "No" and "Driving."
o Speak a custom message, which is transcribed into text; also custom messages can be posted as
audio clips in Facebook.
o For text messages, say "Call Back" and the driver's phone will automatically dial the phone number
associated with the incoming message.
o For text messages, set an automatic reply to all incoming messages, such as: "I'm on the road until
3 p.m. and can get back to you then."
o For Facebook updates, the driver can say "Like" to like a friend's update.
Three operating modes help drivers learn how the app works:
o Beginner – provides full voice prompts for all features.
o Intermediate – provides fewer and shorter voice prompts.
o Expert – no voice prompts.
Requirements: A mobile phone running Android 2.2 or higher; either a GM vehicle with built-in Bluetooth or a vehicle equipped with the new OnStar retail product. OnStar is considering expanding the app in future to work with other manufacturer's in-vehicle Bluetooth systems, and adapting the app to run on other mobile platforms.
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