Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OnStar "MyNetwork" demo at TED includes Tuner2

At CES 2011, OnStar debuted their 4G concept car at the Verizon booth. The OnStar service integrated into the vehicle showcases what's possible when you stop thinking about the car as simple phone docking station and start thinking about the car as a uniquely capable Internet delivery platform.

In February, at TED 2011 in Long Beach, OnStar expanded the capabilities of their concept car to include a feature called "MyNetwork." This system, which leverages the Pioneer Platform for the Aggregation of Internet Services, lets the driver use voice control to do things like find the location of their Facebook and Twitter friends in the real world, discover a new restaurant or other business, publish directions to that place on their status wall, check out what Internet radio stations other drivers are listening to, and send a station to their friend.

It's a compelling mashup that shows how thinking beyond app-by-app can create a compelling and safe Internet experience in the car. Of course, though, we are a bit biased since MyNetwork featured Tuner2 as the Internet radio service, including the TunerMap functionality. Even so, the Media Tuners team has been working on Internet radio in devices since 1999 (!), so it is very gratifying to see that someone is finally taking the concept beyond the simple replication of existing service and deciding to put a new an innovative twist on Internet radio in the car. Just like each radio network shouldn't live alone in their own "app", Internet radio itself shouldn't live alone as a separate "app." It should be part of an integrated experience that takes advantage of the unique requirements of a driver heading down the road.

Pioneer's in-car voice-controlled Internet radio mashup

As I have said many times, the key to usability of Internet radio is integration and intuitive control. Power on, turn the knob, and something good comes out of the speakers. As incredible as it may sound, at CES 2011, Pioneer demonstrated an Internet platform that makes it even simpler. In their case, you just power on, say what you want, and something good happens.

Pioneer's Platform for the Aggregation of Internet Services mashes up Internet radio, social networking, local search, and navigation all wrapped in a natural language voice user interface. It makes the app-by-app experiences announced at CES look a little bit archaic.

Fans of Tuner2 will notice a familiar Internet radio service featured in the demonstration video starting at 2:00 and the use of TunerMap starting at 4:00.