During a recent webchat with OnStar users and enthusiasts, OnStar VP of Planning and Business Development Nick Pudar let slip that OnStar is currently working text-messaging functionality, among other things.
In reply to a question about the future of OnStar Facebook integration, Pudar wrote that the “Facebook Audio Updates beta test has been a good learning journey for [OnStar]” and OnStar is “exploring other voice-based social media communications and other mechanisms.”
Pudar continued by writing that “This would include a killer texting solution” and piqued interest in telling chat participants to “Stay tuned for more!”
The GM Authority Take
For those not readily familiar, OnStar is currently running a beta test that enables OnStar subscribers to not only listen to their Facebook stream in their vehicle, but also update their Facebook status (via an audio update) — all without taking their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.
If the forthcoming “killer texting solution” is anything similar to Ford’s SYNC, I’d expect it to read incoming SMSes and offer the ability to reply to them using speech-to-text technology. What’s surprising to me about this impending text messaging offering, however, is that it seems to be offered by OnStar — rather than provided as a feature of the upcoming Chevrolet MyLink and Buick/GMC IntelliLink in-vehicle infotainment systems. In contrast, Ford’s SYNC performs all processing related to reading (text to speech) and converting drivers’ voice replies to text (speech to text) in the vehicle itself.
Perhaps the OnStar solution mentioned by Mr. Pudar will be an exemplary implementation of the power of the cloud — where users’ voice messages will be sent to OnStar’s data centers to be converted to an SMS/text message and then transferred back down to the vehicle as a subsequent reply (or new SMS). In this scenario, OnStar would function as a speech-to-text intermediary and would most likely be more effective than any in-vehicle processing solution due to the prowess of off-board servers and exponentially more powerful processing and conversion mechanisms. It’s not difficult to imagine the same speech and text-converting mechanisms, if OnStar’s solution will in fact function in that way, working with social networks to post (voice to text) updates and reading (text to voice) features as well.
I guess we’ll find out soon enough how all these new and exciting GM services will play out… in the meantime, what would you like to see in a text messaging solution from OnStar and/or General Motors? Sound off in the comments!