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Transportation Technology

In-Car Video Chat and 4G Streaming From OnStar 72

thecarchik writes "At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, OnStar will reveal the latest on their system. This time, the system will be equipped in a Chevy Volt research vehicle, which seems to be a more appropriate vessel than a Buick for previewing your latest technology. In a press release teasing the appearance, OnStar said the system will offer such features as cloud-based streaming of information and entertainment, rear-seat infotainment management and video chat. Video chat may sound like a terrifying feature for any car, but OnStar said in last year's CES press materials that the feature would only be enabled when the car is in park. Other features like video streaming would also be limited to the rear seat or to a parked vehicle."
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In-Car Video Chat and 4G Streaming From OnStar

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  • It needn't even be cell based... satellite radio systems such as some bus companies use for stop timetable information using transponders on the vehicles are proven tech, it's just a matter of safely delivering that information to the driver. Score one pro point for transponders on private vehicles.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      all GPSes stream traffic info. most have free services for that. even google maps can do it for cellphones.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:38AM (#38444856) Homepage

    Uh huh. Video 'chat' in the back seat of a parked car.

    Add a pair of teenagers, sit back with some popcorn and watch the movie.

    (If you're into that sort of thing).

    • talk about going parking.

      find an empty lot watch half of movie in back seat, make new idiots to repeat process.

  • Data tracking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macrat ( 638047 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:00AM (#38444980)

    In a press release teasing the appearance, OnStar said the system will offer such features as cloud-based streaming of information and entertainment...

    ...directly to local law enforcement.

    • Re:Data tracking (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sigmabody ( 1099541 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:15AM (#38445084)

      Not just local law enforcement. Any government entity, law enforcement or otherwise, without the bothersome inconvenience of probably cause, warrants, or any of that other pre-telematics nonsense. Hope you're not engaging in any activities which the government might think are supportive of terrorists (like, say, talking about seditious thoughts).

      The fact that people buy cars equipped with OnStar is either a sign that we deserve our oppressive government, or is a testimony to the ignorance of the voting public...

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:02AM (#38444988)
    I can understand why you wouldn't want to have video chat going while driving. What I can't understand is why build anything into a car that is not useful while driving? Wouldn't your smart phone or laptop be a much better device to use for a video chat, especially since you are NOT driving? Another point to consider - how many people here still using their cell phone from 4 years ago? Well, 4 year old car still considered "gently used", with most cars lasting 8-12 years. How this vendor-locked technology going to get upgraded?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I really think they're just drawing a blank in the creativity department.

      They've got some pretty spectacular engines these days, I don't see why this isn't the main attraction.

      Or perhaps solar panels on the roof that charge a battery so your battery doesn't go dead. (if you've ever had to drag a car battery up several flights of stairs after freezing your hands trying to disconnect the cables in the dead of winter... you'd appreciate this)

      You know what would be really cool? a car partnership with locomotive

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You know what would be really cool? a car partnership with locomotives, drive up to a ramp and have your train-compatible car packed on a train for longer commutes.

        Washington DC to Orlando, FL only. You can use the car you have now. Costs a couple hundred bucks, takes about 17 hours.

        http://tickets.amtrak.com/itd/amtrak/autotrain [amtrak.com]
        http://www.on-track-on-line.com/autotrain-stations.shtml [on-track-on-line.com]

        I do wish there were more routes, and cheaper prices. One of those weird things I'd love to do someday.

      • They've got some pretty spectacular engines these days, I don't see why this isn't the main attraction.

        Why should anyone care much about engines? Unless you drive your car on a racetrack regularly, they don't matter much as long as they're not slow and get decent fuel economy and don't break down. It's not like you can actually drive cars to their full potential on public streets anywhere.

        Or perhaps solar panels on the roof that charge a battery so your battery doesn't go dead.

        Absolutely useless. Car bat

    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      How this vendor-locked technology going to get upgraded?

      The same way all crappy vendor settings get handled... aftermarket parts and knowhow. Unless you live in Kommiefornia, it won't be much of a problem.

    • The front-facing camera of a smart phone or a laptop would need to be realigned every time you'd put them in your car.

      But with a camera already fixed in your car, it could be just like taxi-cab confessions. The driver wouldn't have to watch the video. He could just have one-way video chat while he would receive the response through his bluetooth headset (or the speaker phone). And if the other person calling him could read his lips for instance, that would be one way to compensate for the added ambient nois

    • This is not for people who keep their car for 8-12 years. It's for people who have money to burn or who aren't paying for it themselves, i.e. corporate execs driving, or being driven in, company cars that are generally only kept for a year.

  • by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:24AM (#38445118)

    Just like every other "technical barrier" the simple undoing will be technical as well... Probably a snip of a line then a soldered in resistor...

    • by cbope ( 130292 )

      And your insurance carrier will drop you like a rock without paying a dime after you get into an accident and an investigation uncovers your hack...

  • by f1vlad ( 1253784 ) Works for Slashdot on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:39AM (#38445200) Homepage Journal
    About time, people have been needing many features introduced here forever; mp3car.com community makes a good case for that.
  • http://pioneer.jp/carrozzeria/cybernavi/ [pioneer.jp] That's the only kind of video a navigation unit should ever be displaying.

  • Where are they going to get the BANDWIDTH for this? It's not like OnStar's satellites have a lot of it. Are they going to launch new comsats?

    At least in cars it's fairly easy to make a big phased array antenna (roof!) which is a plague for portable satellite data phones.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:50AM (#38445268)

    I really wish automobile manufacturers would focus on building quality cars before jumping on the smartphone/tablet bandwagon. Seriously, who uses a carphone these days? It's like the car the turned into a tent. A tent is $100. That is not a good reason to buy a car, nor is a built in phone/tablet/computer. How about a head gasket that doesn't wear out at 20,000 kms?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I really wish automobile manufacturers would focus on building quality cars before jumping on the smartphone/tablet bandwagon.

      You do realize that you are talking about General Motors, which is owned by the 'guvment for exactly the reason that they can't build quality cars?

      And being owned by the government certainly isn't going to help them think about maybe building good cars that people want to buy. Sure, there are some exceptions, but they wouldn't have dug themselves into a bankruptcy hole without bad management and bad cars.

    • How about a head gasket that doesn't wear out at 20,000 kms?

      WTF? Please name exactly which car(s) have a problem like this. What crappy manufacturer are you buying from?

      My 1994 Acura is still working just fine with the original engine and 170,000+ miles, though the paint does look pretty bad now.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:59AM (#38445314) Homepage

    Look at Bruce McCall's "Fully Loaded".cartoon. [bookofjoe.com] That was supposed to be a joke, not a design document.

    • by sharkey ( 16670 )
      Obviously fake. There are no white-gloved mechanical hands holding a towel, mirror and straight razor for the driver's personal hygiene needs.
  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @03:11AM (#38445374)

    At some point, around 20 years ago, they stopped advertising the car part of the car. It's black, it has eyebrows, it gets good mileage, it has 8 music players, 12 bluetooth devices, phones, and video everything.

    You know why it's all necessary? Because the car itself is just no fun to drive.

    Instead, I bought a brand new, relatively inexpensive sports car about two year ago. It has none of the above said features. It has a radio, and a cd player, neither of which I can hear when the roof is down -- which is always, including throughout the winter, and in the rain when on the highway. And there's no road rage, no matter how bad the traffic -- and I'm in a city with an average commute time of 2 hours per day.

    It's fun, because it's a joy to drive. The seats can't recline, there's no back seat, there's a small trunk, and a great engine. And lots and lots of mountain roads. Oh, so many mountain roads.

    Is it good on gas? That depends. Sure I save money at the pump. But I drive it three times as much.

    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      One of my best friends is a real gearhead. Sports suspension, turbo, etc. His car is always a blast to drive or be a passenger in. Sure, he is absolutely capable of driving at a steady pace and maintaining fuel economy (which he does at work nearly every day), but when he's on his own time after a 12 hour shift that isn't really something he wants to do.

      I think too many cars nowadays have forgotten what "style" means. This [edmunds-media.com] is a nice looking car, but it is nowhere near as good

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @03:46AM (#38445548) Homepage

    In most places, video like this on the screen is illegal(whether it's videos, pictures, or anything else). Unless the vehicle is stopped, or is only used for backup purposes, and the vehicle is only going forward less than 10ft. Not sure how they're going to get around the law on this, but in most of Canada the vehicles couldn't be sold with the "feature" working as demonstrated.

    • I can understand why video on a driver's screen would be disabled during drive time. A couple years ago, I saw music videos playing on the 'GPS screen' in Panama. I was in a car used for tourist taxi services, and they played during the whole 3-hour trip. Not sure if it was legal though.
  • Sorry, there have been to many invasions of my privacy by various governments and corporations in the past two years for me to even consider this. Put a bug in my vehicle? Why would I do that? Nope, this tin foil hat looks much better in a vehicle of a more classic mint. I would never have OnStar, it's expensive, unnecessary and a huge invasion of privacy.
  • Why not sell it for the home?

  • What, there is some standard way to do video chat over 4G? Or will this only work with other Onstar subscribers?
  • Why? You have people in the car all the time? How is it any more distracting then a person sitting there? Granted drivers distracted by a passenger is the leading cause of accidents but this wouldnt be any different...
  • so if you are near the Canadian border and roam on to a Canadian tower (yes it can happen if you are still in the USA) who will be hit with the insane data bill?

    What about if you are driving in Canada is there away to trun off on star data so that background data does not go out at costs that can hit $20 pre meg?

  • I guess the solution is to take a tablet or netbook and tape it to the dashboard:)

  • Video for the person on the OTHER side of the conversation would actually add to driving safety. If the other side could see the driver's view (windshield, looking out) then they would know to be quiet and let the driver concentrate if there's a near-accident or obstacle in view. Even better if they could see expressions on the driver's face as well as the view out from the windshield. One reason cellphone conversation is more dangerous than conversation with car passengers is that the other participant doe

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