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On-Star approved for Holden

Star performer: The On-Star communications system, which will eventually have voice-activated Internet and e-mail access.

Upmarket Holdens will be the first to get the On-Star communciations system

19 Jan 2000

THE On-Star in-car communications system owned by General Motors, was approved in December for introduction into Australia.

The total On-Star service in the US provides satellite navigation, an emergency help line, traffic information, travel and entertainment booking service, service information tailored to the vehicle and will even alert On-Star staff if an airbag deploys.

The system includes theft detection tracking which uses satellite navigation to track the location of a stolen car.

It will be introduced within 18 months in the upscale Commodores, Statesman and Caprice and then cascade down into the smaller models.

On-Star will eventually have voice-activated Internet and e-mail access to and from the car.

However, there are concerns that voice activation in some markets will be difficult because the recognition software will not understand the diversity of articulation in speaking styles, especially in a highly stressed situation like an emergency.

The system will have to be introduced in stages because Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth do not have a complete On-Star satellite communications network available.

Melbourne is the most advanced in having the system available.

Holden will also wait until more sophisticated voice activation is available.

Holden believes that early voice recognition like "turn on the radio" is just a gimmick - it can just as easily be done by hand - that will not attract Australian buyers.

Fully functional and practical voice interactivity could be as far as four or five years away.

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