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IoT/M2M Enterprises G-K

Steve Schwinke GM

GM: Global Connected Consumer
1 February 2015 - By Maxine Bingham, Editor-in-Chief

There’s something about a new car that is very cool. I love looking at cars, so talking with GM about their connected car vision was quite exciting. Technology editor, Ron Bingham, and I had a great discussion with Steve Schwinke, director of developer ecosystem and application development for GM’s Global Connected Consumer business unit.

Previously, Schwinke was with OnStar for more than 15 years, where he lead the team of engineers and developers that invented, designed and piloted many of the industry’s first telematics services. Prior to joining OnStar, Steve worked at Ford Motor Company and GTE Government Systems in Mountain View California.  During this time he designed a variety of wireless communication subsystems and components.  Schwinke received his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in RF and Microwave Communication Systems from Santa Clara University and a BSEE from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.  He has been granted 11 patents in the area of Telematics.

IoTP: How do you see the Internet of Things (IoT) and GM cars?

SS: In addition to our main focus on safety, security and peace of mind, if you look at our recent announcements at CES, including AtYourService [see *Editor’s Note], as well as Driver Assurance [see **Editor’s Note] and Driver Feedback, it’s all interrelated with the IoT. If you look at a vehicle today, there are hundreds of sensors and BCUs (body control modules), all connected through a GM bus or LAN (local area network) that performs the major functions of the vehicle – acceleration, etc. If air bags are deployed, it will shut down the engine, etc. If I look at OnStar & GM’s GCC (Global Connected Consumer), I can take that connected ecosystem and expose that for other uses. Life happens in your vehicle and we’ll be there.

IoTP: Tell us more about these January 2015 CES announcements.

SS: For example, I may be driving across the state and think I can drive farther than I can. I can call OnStar and get a hotel room, and, get that room at a discount. We offer these kinds of value-added customer services through a number of partners, such as Priceline, in our AtYourService program. With Driver Feedback, drivers can opt to share their OnStar driving assessment with an insurer that’s participating in the program. We use the 4G connection through that vehicle’s bus, and take that information to our servers and process that information for a driver score. Customers can chose to share that score with an insurer, such as Progressive, for discounts, as it’s much better to get tangible value than just knowing how well you are driving.

I’m very excited about Driver Assurance, as this is another way to show the customer that we’re really looking out for them in this case, by providing predictive analytics of potential failure in time to take faster action. It’s a step further from our current OnStar’s maintenance alerts and advisories showing customers warranties they may not even know they had.

IoTP: What about a previous CES announcement about a GM 3rd party apps development program?

SS: Let's just say it's on hold until we can get it right. We do integrate iOS and Android apps.

IoTP: What do you envision for the connected car of the future?

SS: What inspires me is that we’ve made a commitment as a company to commit to 4G – we did it on 30 “nameplate” vehicles this year and it’s not easy to do that. The core telematics technology had to shift as well as changing the automotive hardware for this high speed low-latency capability. Our CES announcements are just the start of what we can do. We’ve gone from providing information to now predicting. I see an IoT convergence of information that is coming together. The car is the biggest appliance you’re going to own! In the future there may be connectedness between the connected car and the connected home, for example.

IoTP: What about voice recognition?

SS: While there may be more voice recognition and on-board apps in the future if that’s what customers want, today we believe there’s nothing better than a real live human. We have the ultimate voice recognition–a live advisor 24/7!

IoTP: Is Big Data relevant to your connected car vision?

SS: We have worked on Big Data initiatives in my group. We often confuse Big Data and reporting. My goal is to get the data scientists in my group to start getting information about what I’m not smart enough to ask! It’s about starting to look at information differently, to connect the dots in new ways. Can you connect this information with other information for new trends? For example, GM had 22 million smartphone interactions in 2012, 45 million in 2013 and half a million interactions over customer smart phones in 2014! I like to joke that we can tell the weather by seeing how many people are unlocking their cars remotely from their smartphones!

IoTP: What’s your view on driverless cars?

SS: Crash imminent braking system, lane departure, forward collision warnings, to me, those systems are all part of safety, security and peace of mind. We’ll be announcing next year, super cruising, where you can take your hands off the wheels on certain freeways. Connectivity provides insight into these systems. We’re working with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) with data, very valuable data, about how people are reacting to these automated systems and how we can improve them. Sometimes customers don’t fully understand how they’re using these systems – how are they using lane departure warnings? Can’t talk about an autonomous vehicle unless you talk about connectivity. Can’t measure unless you have a feedback loop. It’s nice energy between OnStar and GMs Connected Consumer business unit as we move forward more and more. We did announce at Convergence V-to-V (vehicle to vehicle) communications for safety. We nave been talking about that for a decade. Vehicles with the same systems can be warned about what might take place, for example, coming to an intersection and a car runs a red light.

IoTP: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

SS: It’s an exciting time! I enjoyed it.

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[*Editor’s Note re AtYourService: AtYourService is a commerce and engagement offering that connects drivers with retailers and merchants on their drive, tied to their specific destinations. In addition, OnStar advisors can now help locate hotels and book reservations. AtYourService will roll out in the U.S. and Canada, where OnStar annually receives more than 35 million requests for directions and supports more than 53 million mobile app interactions. Building on these direct connections and adding more daily relevance for subscribers, OnStar has signed initial relationships with partners like Dunkin’ Donuts and Digital coupon providers RetailMeNot and Entertainment Book will supply retail and shopping coupons. Parkopedia will serve data for parking nationwide, and will supply e-book content to drivers on the road. The service provides a simple way to find on-the-go accommodations while drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. In a pilot program, nine out of 10 subscribers said they would book their last-minute hotel needs through OnStar again.]

[**Editors Note re Driver Assurance: Chevrolet is using advanced connected vehicle technology to give customers a new level of assurance in their vehicles later this year. This prognostic technology can predict and notify drivers when certain components need attention in many cases before vehicle performance is impacted. The predictive technology is initially focused on the battery, starter motor and fuel pump, all critical to starting and keeping a vehicle running. Additional vehicle parts and components are expected to be added in future model years. The prognostic service relies on OnStar 4G LTE to provide data streams from sensors within the vehicle.  When a customer has enrolled their properly-equipped vehicle in this service, the data is sent to OnStars secure servers and proprietary algorithms are applied to assess whether certain conditions could impact vehicle performance. When indicated, notifications are sent to the customer via email, text message, in-vehicle alerts or through the OnStar RemoteLink smartphone app. This service is expected to be available on select 2016 Chevrolet Equinox, Tahoe, Suburban, Corvette, Silverado and Silverado HD models equipped with certain powertrains, followed by more Chevrolet vehicles throughout the 2016 model year.


Photo of Steve Schwinke courtesy of GM

© 2015 IoT Perspectives