HD Voice News

GM and Yahoo – Or when your car calls your TV

Shoveling out from under the backlog of CES, I saw two very different pieces of technology that will likely be tied together by next January.  And they involve your car and your TV.

GM’s Chevy Volt (www.gm.com), the electric car that will save America (OK, maybe not, but you get it), has some onboard smarts that allow it to “talk” to you, so you can deal with it like a smart appliance.

Using a smartphone client (Android, iPhone, one of the Blackberry family) and remote connectivity through OnStar (and how well it will work the garage is an interesting question) will allow Volt owners to display charge status, the ability to schedule charge timing – including a manual “grid friendly” charge mode for when electricity is cheapest – and get email for charge reminders, interruptions, and full charge, among other things.  There’s also a remote-start feature to warm/cool the car and you can review the MPG and odometer remotely if you need to.

So this rolls into part two, where Yahoo! Connected TV (http://connectedtv.yahoo.com) has expanded its footprint and released its TV Widget Developer Kit (WDK) to the public.  You’ll be able to get YahooWidgets on VIZIO and Hisense TVs, plus ViewSonic is going to provide a backfit MediaPlayer. Deeper into the stack, MIPS and Sigma Designs are going to support the Yahoo Widget Engine, so Yahoo’s software will start proliferating onto more consumer devices.

(Hello, Google, Hello! I guess the TV isn’t cool enough for you to play with…Skype and Yahoo have already got their fingers on it.)

The WDK has a bunch of APIs to enable developers to write widgets using JavaScript and XML to deliver “dynamic content” to millions of TV sets and other consumer devices in the pipeline, so if you take the OnStar piece and put it with the WDK piece, your car will soon be providing you status updates on your TV!

Needless to say, the concept of car-as-network-device has my professionally paranoid friends more than a little squirmy.  Someone hacks your car and it will be a Really Bad Day!


But let’s think about this whole Yahoo! open TV business for a moment.  The cool kids on the block, like those using Digium Asterisk, could use Yahoo’s WDK to plug in presence and other features like visual voice mail over your TV.

Sure, you can currently get some TV-esque services from some of your friendly neighborhood cable franchises, but the Yahoo! toolkit means that A) Those cable franchises might get some of those bells and whistles cheaper via open code hacks and/or B) Enterprise and third-parties could go straight to their PBX infrastructure if they wanted.

Is this any better than just having a message coming straight to your cell phone? I don’t know, but it’s another option to think about.

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