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GM, OnStar Kick Off CES

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The Cadillac Cue interface

The Cadillac Cue interface

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LAS VEGAS — To see just how welcome Detroit’s automakers have become in the world of high technology, check out who held the first formal press conference in the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show Sunday — General Motors, showing off new capabilities for its in-car connectivity systems.

Included was making OnStar’s application development technology open to third-party developers for the first time.

Katy Linendoll, a GM technology expert, said there’s more and more demand for ubiquitous, seamless tech connectivity between home, office, mobile device and the car.

And that’s what GM has built for its Cadillac brand with the new Cue system. The system links vehicle controls like music and temperature with outside services like phones, traffic and weather conditions, presenting them all seamlessly on a video screen on the dashboard’s center stack.

GM’s research came up with eight different types of drivers from the technophile to the technophobe, and designed a system that’s as simple as a user wants it to be — and as complex and intricate, if that’s how the user wants to use it.

Also at the press conference, OnStar president Linda Marshall provided an overview of how GM’s OnStar system continues to grow and serve its customers — including helping a Montana couple deliver a baby. The service also is fully international, with more than 400,000 customers in China, where it also has two call centers.

OnStar also sold 20,000 of its OnStar FMV replacement rear view mirrors that offer full OnStar safety and communication services. Marshall said Ford and Toyota vehicles were the No. 1 marques for the universal mirrors.

GM vice president of planning and business development Nick Pudar also spoke about GM’s use of the cloud for its in-car connectivity services. More than 250,000 customers are now using the OnStar remote link app that offers features like navigation, remote starting and remote door unlocking, and more apps are on the way.

Pudar also announced that GM would now make its OnStar API application development kit open and available to app developers for the first time.

Shelby Clark of RelayRides, the first such app, talked about how his app allows individuals to rent out their cars to others securely, allowing more cars to be shared. The app works through smartphones.

Pudar said only the limits of the imaginations of developers limits the possible applications OnStar users might see in the future. One such app, he said, could help those who use their cars both for business and personal use keep accurate track of mileage spent on business purposes for tax time.

Pudar also talked up GM’s partnership with Verizon Wireless to bring embedded 4G high-speed wireless connectivity to the car, allowing cars to become control centers for content and services like remote home services — everything like connecting movies from the home PC to the car to adjusting a home’s thermostat from the car.

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