CES 2012: OnStar FMV

OnStar, owned by GM, was one of the first embedded telematics options for cars. This now-familiar service is used by motorists to ask for navigation assistance, unlock their doors, track a stolen vehicle, call for help, and perform other roadway tasks. OnStar has more than 6 million subscribers, and is available on more than 40 GM vehicles in North America. More recently, OnStar has expanded into China. 

What you might not know is that OnStar is also available in the form of a replacement rearview mirror (called OnStar FMV) that can be installed on more than 100 million vehicles including non-GM vehicles. Ford? Toyota? Chrysler? No problem. Check OnStar’s online compatibility tool, then hop over to Best Buy and grab one.

But here’s the really interesting part. At a lavish CES press conference, OnStar announced that it was releasing its proprietary API (application programming interface) to third-party developers. This means that entrepreneuring geniuses can create their own cool apps for OnStar. First up will be RelayRides, a service that lets you loan out your idle car, or borrow a loaner. RelayRides and OnStar create a marketplace to hook up cars with drivers, and adds a $1 million insurance policy. Just an example of where OnStar is heading – beyond GM and into computer, smartphone and tablet apps. Got an idea for a terrific car app that can leverage OnStar’s services? Here’s your chance.