General Motors OnStar tunes into IBM's Watson AI to sell you stuff in your car

IBM Watson is helping GM's offers and deals platform learn more about what drivers might want to buy while on the road.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

IBM's machine-learning tech will help GM's system learn a driver's tastes, habits and decision-making processes.

Image: Sean Klingelhoefer/Mastercard/GM

General Motors is teaming up with IBM to use Watson's artificial intelligence not to power an autonomous vehicle, but to market services to drivers on the road.

The GM and IBM partnership has given birth to OnStar Go, a next-generation version of GM's existing OnStar subscription packages for mobile data, navigation, assistance and security.

The partnership will focus on tailoring in-vehicle marketing and entertainment to drivers' tastes by expanding the OnStar AtYourService feature, GM's offers and deals platform.

The service today makes recommendations via the vehicle's mobile app for places to eat, shop and do things, but with Watson it will become smarter about how it makes suggestions.

IBM's machine-learning tech will help GM's system learn a driver's tastes, habits and decision-making processes.

While there are potentially helpful features for the driver, OnStar Go is squarely aimed at firms that want to target products and services at vehicle owners. Marketers are likely to appreciate knowing that the people they're reaching can afford a new-model vehicle.

The Watson-powered features will be available in early 2017 for about two million 4G connected GM vehicles.

GM believes that companies in retail, fuel, hospitality, media and entertainment, restaurants and travel and transportation will use OnStar Go to reach drivers in a personalized way. Drivers will need to opt in to the service.

Brands that have already signed up to GM's Watson platform include ExxonMobile, Glympse, iHeartRadio, MasterCard and Parkopedia.

Using the platform, MasterCard can enable purchases from the car while ExxonMobil will recommend fuel and oils, and enable fuel payments from within the car.

OnStar Go could also be helpful to the driver, so long as it involves buying something. For example, the service could be used to remind a working father to buy diapers before exiting the highway and arriving home, or provide celebrity chef dining recommendations when passing through a new city.

IBM's The Weather Company will also provide weather and location data to the system that will help personalize targeted marketing, and provide warnings about driving conditions.

GM unveiled the new feature at IBM's World of Watson conference, which is being held this week. IBM yesterday announced a host of new Watson features, including Watson for iOS apps, the Watson Virtual Agent for chatbots, and the Watson data platform.


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