As the desire to talk on the phone while driving butts heads with legislation prohibiting drivers to use a wireless phone, hands-free devices suddenly seem all the more enticing. Because the majority of the 81 million U.S. wireless subscribers say they use their phones in the car, companies that offer a hands-free solution could be in the driver's seat.
Troy, MI-based OnStar has agreed to take an equity stake of approximately $15 million in Sunnyvale, CA-based General Magic, makers of the magicTalk voice platform. OnStar has selected magicTalk as the voice user interface for the OnStar Virtual Advisor, which will provide hands-free, voice-activated access to Web-based information services in vehicles. General Magic is expected to provide engineering, network hosting, and consulting services to OnStar as part of the ongoing relationship.
With the magicTalk core technology integrated into the OnStar Virtual Advisor, OnStar subscribers will be able to access personalized information such as e-mail, sports, weather, news, and market headlines through voice interactions.
Pending regulatory review, the term of this agreement is three years and will begin in Q4 1999. OnStar uses Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite technology and wireless communications to link drivers and vehicles to the 24-hour OnStar Center for real-time, personalized services.