Why GM is bringing IBM’s Watson onboard its vehicles

IBM Watson
If you’re not distracted enough already while driving, there’s a new partnership between OnStar and IBM Watson that’s sure to add to the sensory overload. Beginning early next year, Watson will be making its way into your vehicle, and for a rather curious purpose — to help you “connect and interact with [your] favorite brands.” Promising “personalized content through the dashboard and other digital channels supported by the OnStar Go ecosystem,” this new collaboration hopes to help you make the most of the time you spend in the car.

While you might expect a smart car system to tell you what areas to avoid due to traffic or to alert you when you’re low on fuel, the OnStar and Watson partnership does much more than that. As GM noted in its announcement on Tuesday, “Watson will learn the driver’s preferences, apply machine learning, and sift through data to recognize patterns in their decisions and habits.” Armed with this information, brand and marketing professionals will be able to “deliver individualized location-based interactions that directly impact their target audiences.” So it does sound a bit as though your car will be turned into a moving, personalized ad.

“On average, people in the U.S. spend more than 46 minutes per day in their car, and are looking for ways to optimize their time,” said Phil Abram, executive director, GM Connected Products and Strategy. “By leveraging OnStar’s connectivity and combining it with the power of Watson, we’re looking to provide safer, simpler, and better solutions to make our customers’ mobility experience more valuable and productive.” And it seems like it’ll also make partner brands more profitable.

“IBM and GM are changing the whole notion of where valuable daily rituals occur.  The combination of IBM Watson and industry-leading OnStar connectivity will enable vehicles with intelligent branded skills and services to empower drivers and passengers,” said Paul Papas, global leader, IBM iX. “Simply put, OnStar Go with IBM Watson transforms time wasted in the car into time well spent.”

For now, the brands on the platform include ExxonMobil, Glympse, iHeartRadio, Mastercard, and Parkopedia, which means you have the ability to do everything from paying for goods to finding fuel stations, all from the comfort of your car. You can watch IBM and GM announce their new partnership live at 4 p.m. Wednesday here.

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