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OnStar, Watson combine for in-car marketing

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The OnStar connectivity system inside an Opel Karl.
The OnStar connectivity system inside an Opel Karl.

General Motors and IBM will combine IBM's artificial intelligence software Watson with the carmaker's OnStar system to market services to drivers in their vehicles.

The feature, called OnStar Go, is set to debut early next year in more than two million GM vehicles with 4G service, IBM and GM said in a joint statement.

IBM's Watson, which beat two previous winners of the quiz show "Jeopardy!" in 2011, will sift through data to recognise a driver's habits, allowing third-party marketers to deliver targeted offers or reminders about shopping-list items, and enabling users to pay for fuel from their dashboards.

Carmakers have been adding connected services into their vehicles to duplicate the convenience of smartphones, which can suggest nearby restaurant offers, or point the way to a gas station.

Data generated from connected vehicles is valuable to automakers, although some consumers have been wary of privacy and data security issues. Drivers will have to opt in to the service, the companies said.

Automakers are trying to fend off in-vehicle competition from Alphabet's Google and Apple, whose Android Auto and CarPlay services connect entertainment and navigation on the driver's smartphone to the vehicle's dashboard.

ExxonMobil, MasterCard and parking spot finder Parkopedia are among the first brands to join the platform, IBM and GM said.

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