The all-good-news answer to that question is to stream all sorts of media from the cloud to the back seats: videos, video calls, etc. Via the built-in front screen, the car could also control networked appliances back home, things like lights, A/C units and garage doors. Also, the thing that makes this system different from just having two video screens in the back of the car is that driver can control what's on the back seat screens: starting or stopping apps, pausing media, adjusting volume, etc.
Cheney told AutoblogGreen that the details on how a system like this could be implemented in the real world are not really fleshed out since this is just a test project (an evolution of a Buick LaCrosse shown at the 2011 CES). It's clear even at this early stage that the idea of an in-car network creates something entirely different than a back-seat passenger simply bringing his own iPad, so you would need to tie the devices to the car somehow. But, Cheney said, it also doesn't make sense to force the customer to buy two tablet computers (Samsung devices, in the prototype) that only connect with the vehicle and are likely to become old technology well before the car's end of life. So, if you make the system work with any device brought into the car, how do you create an app that allows the driver to have control over the back-seat devices? And how do you prevent children from simply not using that app if they want to play a game that mom doesn't want them to play? OnStar has no solution to this question right now, but Cheney said that some customers will want a system that "just works."
Because the prototype vehicle is a Volt, the system integrates charging and smart grid information. Compared to the regular battery/charging information in a production Volt, Cheney said, this new system includes better navigation and the ability – should a particular charging station offer it – to reserve charge time.
Below, we've got a video of the system's debut and have also pasted GM's press release announcing this car in January.
Static Chevrolet Volt demonstrates power of Verizon 4G LTE Network
LAS VEGAS – OnStar and Verizon Wireless unveiled a second-generation connected research vehicle at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
The static Chevrolet Volt research concept vehicle focuses on a comprehensive in-vehicle experience giving all users access to streaming content from the Cloud enabled by the Verizon 4G LTE network and building on OnStar's Advanced Telematics Operating System (ATOMS).
The Volt research cars will be featured as part of the Verizon booth (South Hall, Booth 30259) as well as the OnStar booth (North Hall, Booth 1330) in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The prototype applications demonstrate:
Streaming content: The 4G LTE connection provides passengers access to streaming content from their home computer or via a popular streaming service.
Sharing content throughout the vehicle: OnStar has developed a method for the in-vehicle sharing of content among users.
Rear seat infotainment management: With the use of an advanced Human Machine Interface, the user has independent control of the two rear zones, allowing transmission of cached or streaming content, including music, videos, games and news, to each rear passenger.
Video chat: Rear seat passengers can make a Skype video call from the vehicle to anywhere: vehicle to home, vehicle to mobile device, or vehicle to vehicle.
Additionally, OnStar built on its pioneering work with Smart Grid technology and home connectivity to develop in-vehicle energy management applications:
OnStar RemoteLink: Full integration of OnStar's RemoteLink mobile application, giving the Volt owner the opportunity to access remote vehicle information and services.
Real time diagnostics and Eco Routing: Volt owners can access charge status, distance on remaining charge, find and reserve charging locations and manage pertinent Volt information and vehicle diagnostics.
Home Energy Management: OnStar allows users to control the home thermostat, lights, garage door and other systems directly from the vehicle.
Following the 2011 CES joint research vehicle, OnStar's advanced innovation engineering team continued collaboration with Verizon's LTE Innovation Center to further investigate the potential of the connected vehicle. The takeaway was developing a more holistic cloud connected in-vehicle experience.
"These applications are just a glimpse of what is possible when you combine the cloud computing capabilities of OnStar and the power of the Verizon 4G LTE network," said OnStar President Linda Marshall. "Moving forward we want to continue to provide our customers with a comprehensive suite of connected services and create a seamless and safe in-vehicle experience."
While the applications shown in the static Chevrolet Volt research vehicle are only conceptual, they demonstrate future opportunities the OnStar ATOMS Cloud capabilities can provide in combination with broadband accessibility.
"Any future services from OnStar will meet our high standards for safety – making sure that drivers' hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the road," Marshall said.
OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology. With more than 6 million subscribers in the U.S, Canada and China, OnStar is currently available on more than 45 MY 2012 GM models, as well as available for installation on most other vehicles already on the road with OnStar FMV. More information about OnStar can be found at www.onstar.com.
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's largest 4G LTE network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves 107.7 million total wireless connections, including 90.7 million retail customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with nearly 83,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.