DETROIT -- Drivers could get live traffic-cam feeds, host a video conference or even adjust their home thermostat using new prototype technology OnStar unveiled today.
General Motors Co.'s telematics division is mulling those applications and more under a new partnership with Verizon Wireless that aims to deliver 4G mobile broadband technology to GM vehicles.
OnStar is showing off the technology in a Buick LaCrosse research vehicle this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The Verizon pact is a milestone in OnStar's evolution from an emergency-response and diagnostics service to a full-blown infotainment system. It would allow OnStar to offer services, such as voice-based Web browsing, that are available on Ford Motor Co.'s Sync infotainment system.
“The true broadband speed of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network gives our engineers the freedom to reimagine the world of connected in-vehicle services,” OnStar President Chris Preuss said in a statement.
Verizon launched its 4G service last month. Verizon says it is 10 times faster than its existing 3G network.
The LaCrosse test vehicle is equipped with several whiz-bang features that OnStar is considering:
• Vehicle monitoring via tiny cameras mounted throughout the interior and exterior, letting users check on their vehicle remotely from a smart phone or computer
• An application that can detect an impact from a parking lot fender-bender, for example, and send a video clip of the perpetrator to a secure server
• A voice-operated navigation system that displays live traffic-cam images, routing the driver around congested spots
• A voice-commanded system to call up Web sites such as YouTube and Twitter on the in-vehicle display
• A system to monitor and control the lights, thermostat and other systems in the vehicle owner's home.
Preuss said the applications would let users keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. But he acknowledged that federal regulations could influence which services OnStar brings to market.
Speaking to reporters last month, he said, “There still needs to be some shaking out around the distracted driver issue with the government.”