At International CES, OnStar -- a subsidiary of General Motors -- said Sunday that it will show off a new feature called "AtYourService," which partners with a number of companies to let drivers buy goods, receive coupons and even book hotels straight from their cars. Ask the service for a hotel recommendation in the area, for example, and it will hook into to Priceline.com to search for a good deal, get permission to book from the driver and then provide directions to your bed for the night.
The program provides a glimpse at how drivers can expect their time behind the wheel to change as more and more car models go online. As we all rely more heavily on our smartphones and other connected devices, there has been a greater push from consumers to bring the Internet to the road.
Carmakers have rushed to oblige, but it's not cheap to offer those services -- even with the monthly subscription fees GM receives from OnStar customers. Since the concept of the connected car first started catching on a few years ago, there's been a lot of debate over about how companies will make money off of the millions of new Internet-connected devices rolling through America's streets. After all, the Web site revenue model of catching users' eyes and keeping them interacting with ads doesn't exactly work when you're barreling down a highway at 70 miles per hour.
AtYourService (and other similar programs that are likely to follow) provides a first glimpse of just how the model might work for manufacturers as they look for a way to pitch products and sponsored deals to that captive audience without compromising road safety.
At launch, OnStar has signed up with Dunkin' Donuts and Priceline.com, as well as with digital coupon providers RetailMeNot and Entertainment Book. The company also announced that it will work Audiobooks.com and with Parkopedia, which will offer parking information to users. The service is due to roll out across North America, and will grow over time.
“We can’t think of a more exciting and targeted way to connect with our guests than when they are in their vehicles looking for a Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant," said the restaurant's vice president of Global Consumer Engagement, Scott Hudler. "We’ll bring value to GM drivers while driving those consumers to our stores with instant incentives.”
AtYourService is an opt-in program -- meaning it's not mandatory for anyone who may feel uncomfortable with the idea of their letting retailers know their location while on the road. OnStar hasn't released much information on how the data collected by the service is stored, shared or used, though more details are expected this week.