1999 11 04 NYT NEWS WATCH; G.M. to Offer a New Reason To Keep the Cell Phone On – New York Times


NEWS WATCH; G.M. to Offer a New Reason To Keep the Cell Phone On

For drivers not already talking on their cellular phones, the General Motors Corporation plans to introduce a new service sometime next year, one that will let them surf the Internet from a car.

The service will be offered as an addition to the Onstar cellular phone and navigation system, which is already used by 94,000 owners of luxury G.M. cars and sport utility vehicles. To reduce the safety risks that might come from distracted drivers, no computer screens will be used for the new service.

Instead, drivers and passengers will be able to issue commands like ”start my e-mail” or ”start my stock quotes,” instructions that should be recognized by voice-recognition software in the Onstar system.

In response to these and other commands, drivers will hear a computer-generated voice — received over their cars’ cellular phones — that will read stock price quotes, news, sports scores and the text of any e-mail messages. It will not be possible to send e-mail messages when the system is introduced, although that may be added later, G.M. officials said.