In-Car Skype

This latest technology will keep backseat passengers, big and small, entertained for hours.

Last week wrapped up Chicago’s second annual Techweek, a trade show held in the city’s storied Merchandise Mart building. Joining the fray were Chevrolet, Verizon, and OnStar. Together, they showed off a Chevy Volt concept vehicle that incorporates Verizon’s 4G LTE network and OnStar’s telematics system. In-car Skype?

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Demonstrations showed how content streaming and sharing (music, games, videos) can take place inside the vehicle—delivered to rear passengers through their own screens—from either a home computer or a cloud storage system. Also, passengers could conduct Skype video-chatting sessions from inside the car with those same individual screens. In the concept vehicle, Samsung tablets were attached to the back of the front-seat headrests. Although they were independent of one another, they could still be controlled by the driver from the vehicle’s main interface system.

Man, and I thought it was cool when we installed a car phone into my family’s minivan in the early 1990s.

But in case those features weren’t radical enough for you, OnStar incorporated its Smart Grid technology into the concept vehicle. It allows users to not only access information about the vehicle itself but access information about their home—and control various energy-related functions going on inside of it. So if you left your house to go run errands and realized you forgot to turn a light off, or perhaps left the garage door open, this function would allow you to turn off the light, close the garage door, and even alter your thermostat—all from within the confines of your car.

Scary or cool? It’s a fine line. But either way, the fact that this technology can be integrated into our vehicles is certainly impressive, not to mention handy.

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In-Car Skype