Update: A Harman spokesperson responded to some of Autoblog's questions, and the story now includes that information.

A collaboration between Harman and Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show brings features from the Office 365 suite of productivity software to automotive infotainment systems. The deal promises to allow drivers to safely get business deals done in the connected car of the future.

"By ensuring that Office 365 services are seamlessly integrated with car and driver telematics and performance data, we will allow consumers to be more productive during their driving hours, while enjoying far greater convenience, safety and reliability," Peggy Johnson, Microsoft's executive vice president of business development, said in the announcement.

The companies' demonstration at CES shows that the tech allows drivers to schedule meetings, check email, and join conference calls from behind the wheel. The system even supports Skype, but the vehicle must be in park for now. However, driverless cars could make video possible on the move later. To make sure that people only use this functionality when it's safe, Harman integrates the features into the vehicle's sensors. Company spokesperson Vivian Jee gave this example to Autoblog: "When the car is in autonomous mode, for instance a video conference could be activated but when in manual mode the drive sensors would prevent that and revert to voice only."

Harman plans to include Office 365 integration in the next 12 to 18 months on vehicles with the company's next-gen infotainment platforms, according to Jee. The supplier wouldn't say in what models the tech might appear first, but "we are in active discussions with several automakers," Jee said.

This deal is another sign that Microsoft looks to leverage its existing tech heavily in future vehicles through partnerships. The corporation also has a collaboration with Volvo at this year's CES to allow voice controls through an app on the Microsoft Band 2 wearable device. The two companies intend to work together on autonomous cars in the future, too.
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HARMAN and Microsoft to Bring Driver Productivity to the Global Automotive Industry

Collaboration announced at CES 2016 streamlines functionality between HARMAN Connected Car Systems and Microsoft Productivity Services

January 05, 2016 Connected Car
CES 2016, LAS VEGAS – HARMAN (NYSE: HAR), the premier connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, announced a connected car collaboration with Microsoft Corp. at CES 2016. This project will introduce new mobile productivity services, as well as utilize existing products, services and technologies, including cloud platforms, telematics and driver productivity, to offer better convenience, safety and reliability for drivers and greater operating efficiency for auto manufacturers. Most importantly, the collaboration will integrate key elements of Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite capabilities into HARMAN infotainment systems.

This collaboration is a first for Microsoft in the connected car space and represents a new emphasis on productivity within the car. With access to relevant Office 365 services through intelligent personal assistant software, drivers can complete tasks without compromising safety, including scheduling meetings, hearing and responding to emails, automatically joining conference calls without having to manually input the phone number and passcode, and seamlessly managing events and tasks throughout the day. Drivers will also be able to hold Skype calls and conferences when in park, or on the road with autonomous vehicles. In addition, with HARMAN's over-the-air (OTA) incremental update capabilities, the most current version of Office 365 will always be accessible to drivers.

"Working with Microsoft is a natural fit for HARMAN as we continue our track record of making the car more sophisticated, productive and intelligent," said Phil Eyler, president, HARMAN Connected Car. "Drivers want an immersive, and personalized experience in the car. Increasingly, that includes strong demands for richer productivity. This collaboration will bring these functionalities to market with, importantly, great reliability, security and minimal driver distraction."

"Bringing the power of Office 365 into HARMAN's connected car systems will provide new productivity solutions and transform the driving experience," said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, Microsoft. "By ensuring that Office 365 services are seamlessly integrated with car and driver telematics and performance data, we will allow consumers to be more productive during their driving hours, while enjoying far greater convenience, safety and reliability."

HARMAN at CES 2016

Visit the HARMAN showcase during CES 2016 for demonstrations of the company's full portfolio of connected car and lifestyle audio systems that enable the connected life. The HARMAN experience showcase is located at the Hard Rock Hotel. Follow HARMAN online during CES 2016:

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HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers and enterprises worldwide, including connected car systems; audio and visual products, enterprise automation solutions; and connected services. With leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson® and Revel®, HARMAN is admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform around the world. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. The Company's software services power billions of mobile devices and systems that are connected, integrated and secure across all platforms, from work and home to car and mobile. HARMAN has a workforce of approximately 28,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $6.4 billion during the 12 months ended September 30, 2015. The Company's shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NYSE:HAR.

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