When General Motors (GM) first introduced the OnStar on-board system for its vehicles more than 25 years ago, it was a pioneer in behind-the-wheel safety communication, offering a genuine lifeline for motorists in trouble. Now, nearly all OEMs offer some kind of similar service, not to mention that most drivers and passengers likely have a phone in their pocket or purse for immediate communication, in case of emergency.
To improve upon its OnStar offering, and taking advantage of all those phones, GM launched Guardian two years ago, a smart phone app that offers customers crash response, roadside assistance or other emergency services, as well as round-the-clock access to live emergency advisors. Further, the Guardian app is available to non-GM owners for a nominal monthly fee.
And now, extending the product even further, GM has partnered with Amazon to make OnStar Guardian available via Alexa, the very popular cloud-based voice service. OnStar Guardian has become one of the many Alexa ‘skills’ or apps available on Amazon’s flagship at-home communication device. Customers requesting assistance, as in “Alexa, please call for help,” will be connected to an OnStar Certified Advisor, who are trained to offer help beyond roadside repair or rescue.
On GM’s website, Jeff Wajer, the head of OnStar Guardian Home, relates a very personal story of how he believes the simplicity of accessing OnStar Guardian via Alexa brings a greater sense of security into the home, especially since it can be utilized by his son, Hunter, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.
According to Wajer, “Parenting a child with ASD forces you to look at safety from a unique perspective, and there is one recurring worry on my mind: How can Hunter access help if something were to happen to an adult that may be watching him? Currently, he would not be able to utilize a phone to call 911. However, he does know Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, and can talk to her to play his favorite songs.”
Further, GM’s Global Innovation Team is exploring how utilizing OnStar Guardian through Alexa can be made even more valuable to people with other disabilities, including those with limited mobility and even the hearing impaired. Wajer envisions a time when OnStar Guardian will be a valuable tool for all customers regarding health and wellness, especially in emergency situations.
To read the complete story about Jeff Wajer and his son, Hunter, please click here.