Combining voice assistance with artificial intelligence and consumer data is a hot tech trend, thanks to Amazon’s Alexa and her many “skills.” So it’s not surprising that General Motors will apply this same concept to the car to create what it’s calling a “cognitive mobility platform.”
The automaker teamed with IBM and its Watson voice-recognition technology for OnStar Go, which “will learn the driver’s preferences, apply machine learning, and sift through data to recognize patterns in their decisions and habits.” Then it will try to sell stuff to drivers who opt in.
“Marketers will offer services and suggestions that personally impact” car owners, GM said in a press release. Initial partners are limited to ExxonMobil, Glympse, iHeartRadio, Mastercard, and Parkopedia, but it’s easy to imagine other companies lining up to reach a captive audience in the car.
“On average, people in the US spend more than 46 minutes per day in their car and are looking for ways to optimize their time,” said Phil Abram, executive director of Connected Products and Strategy for GM. “By leveraging OnStar’s connectivity and combining it with the power of Watson…we’re looking to provide safer, simpler and better solutions to make our customers’ mobility experience more valuable and productive.”
GM added that it plans to “deliver personalized content through the dashboard and other digital channels to more than 2 million OnStar vehicles with 4G LTE connectivity by the end of 2017.”
And while some may find this creepy and an annoying intrusion into a car’s cabin, there are good reasons to let a chatbot ride shotgun.
Whether surfing social media, listening to streaming music, or watching video content, I’m already constantly bombarded by ads on my computer, smartphone, and TV. And it’s annoying that after booking a flight online I suddenly get ads from airlines in my Facebook feed—as if I’m ready to book another trip.
If OnStar Go can be smart about it and present good and services that are relevant to me and my location, I’m willing to give it a shot. GM gave several examples of the service employing contextually relevant information to solve a problem, like reminding a new dad to pick up diapers before going home or giving “a traveling foodie dining recommendations from celebrity chefs when driving in a new city.”
While I’m way past the diaper years (for my kids, not me), I wish I could be reminded to pick up coffee or milk on my way home, so that I don’t discover the next morning that I’m out and drive for my first cup of joe while half asleep. And how many times have you wasted time and fuel driving around looking for a place to eat?
But here’s where they had me. GM said “Watson Retrieve and Rank will even let a driver know that their order is ready for pickup at a nearby retail store and one of the store’s employees will load their purchases into the car.” You mean I don’t even have to set foot in a store? Sign me up.
Originally published by PCMag.com
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