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January 08, 2007

Live From the Detroit Auto Show: Dinner With A Life Saver

Huber Last night I took a tour of the GM OnStar command center here in Michigan and had dinner with President Chet Huber and the executive team behind the OnStar success story.

Chet and his team are passionate about their OnStar on board integrated wireless technology birthed well before popular in 1995 and has grown to 5 million subscribers. The dedication to continue to develop this technology to help save lives and assist GM OnStar customers with personalized live help is quite an impressive feat.

OnStar subscribers not only get roadside assistance from the 1000 plus team of the live support team, the latest version with on board diagnostics can detect and relay what kind of problem has occured and speed the right services to the consumer, including better prepared emergency medical help.

To learn more about their newest innovation on turn by turn directions read some info from this recent post on Ask Patty:

"GPS, or Global Positioning System, was originally developed by the U.S. military and released to civilian use in 1996. 27 satellites orbit the earth and form their own constellation so that four satellites are always present or “visible”.

NavigationThat visibility’s important. Your GPS unit, or “receiver”, works by emitting a high-frequency, low-power radio signal to those satellites. By using triangulation of where—and when--the satellites are to each other and to the receiver, your location can then be determined. The location information is then combined with the almanac, or map, in your receiver to give you a visual representation to where you are. Location, atmospheric conditions, and incorrect almanac information can severely affect the GPS’ accuracy.

Onstar Onstar, which is General Motor’s subscription tracking and monitoring system, uses this service to provide the most unique and simplest navigation system that I’ve ever encountered. Called “Turn By Turn”, the system directs you to your location by simple verbal directions. Herb Shuldiner of Newsday tested the system. He contacted the staff and, after giving his destination, they transmitted the information to his car’s Onstar unit. The unit told him what street to take, when to turn, and how many miles (or feet) for the next action. This is a lot easier than using my Accord’s navigation system: I not only spent a weekend studying the manual and learning the system, but I have to look away from the road to make sure I’m following directions. Onstar avoids both issues by being easy to operate (just press a button) and simple to follow."

According to GM, having OnStar reduces the morbidity in accidents because their technology knows where you are, when it happened, and even how severe the accident might be. That kind of technology is incredible.

by Jody DeVere
Ask Patty


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