Toyota's ready to battle GM's OnStar with it's own on-board telematics program appropriately named Safety Connect and Lexus Enform. Of course GM could have avoided this if they'd let Lexus continue to use OnStar.
Toyota Motor Company has recently announced a new in-car proprietary telematics program named Safety Connect for its Toyota models and Enform with Safety Connect for its Lexus luxury brand. The new safety features will slowly make their production debut in select Toyota and Lexus vehicles over the next year. While sharing many similarities with GM’s OnStar system, the Toyota Safety Connect features four main safety and security features: Roadside Assistance, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) and Stolen Vehicle Location (SVL). These features are designed to allow ToMoCo’s customers to have a semblance of safety and security while on the road they wouldn't ordinarily get without such new technologies as a cell phone or a CB radio.
The Toyota brand’s Safety Connect uses embedded GPS and cellular signals to signal for help if an airbag has been deployed or a severe rear-end collision has been detected. In a case where the system isn’t activated automatically, an occupant of the vehicle can use the Emergency Assistance Button (SOS) to contact emergency services manually. The SOS button can also be used to contact Roadside Assistance in the event of a break down. If the vehicle is ever stolen, once a police report has been filed, the Stolen Vehicle Location feature may be activated to locate the car – think of it as a factory Lo-Jack system.
ToMoCo’s luxury brand, Lexus, receives all of the standard Safety Connect features and adds a few more conveniences to make up the Lexus Enform service. Additional features include Destination Assist and eDestination. Consider these two services as a personal in-car concierge that can help with directions as well as recommend local restaurants and hot spots. When the driver has made a choice the destination is sent to the vehicle’s navigation system. If the vehicle owner wants to plan the route themselves, the eDestination service is accessible from any PC and when planning is complete, it will send the information to the navigation system. All of these features will be accessible though the Lexus Flexible Voice Interface, a casual-speech voice recognition system, scheduled to debut on the 2010 RX model.
Look for the GM OnStar rivaling Safety Connect and Enform services to debut in select models later this year, each with an included one-year subscription.
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Announces Dual-Brand Telematics Programs: Lexus EnformTM and Safety ConnectTM Available in 2009
LAS VEGAS (January 7, 2009) – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc. today announced that it will launch its proprietary telematics systems in the year to come. The all-new systems will be available on select models with customized versions for both Lexus and Toyota brands.
"We are proud to introduce these services and advance our relationships with our customers by providing them the features they need to feel safer and more secure while on the road," said Jon Bucci, TMS vice president, Advanced Technology Department. "Our primary focus while developing our services was on three key traits: choice, convenience and control. We feel that our new telematics offerings deliver on these attributes, hitting the mark for what our customers have shown us they will be looking for in their next vehicle purchase."
The Toyota brand will introduce Safety Connect on select Toyota models, helping to bring its drivers an added peace of mind. Lexus will introduce Lexus Enform with Safety Connect, a service built on the foundation of valuable safety and security services with the added layer of more convenience-oriented features and specialized advanced technologies.
New Offerings Built on a Solid Heritage of Quality
With characteristic Toyota vision, sights have been set on bringing Toyota's proprietary telematics products to the U.S. for many years.
"Prior to entering the U.S. market full force, Toyota practiced a deliberate approach to product development based on our experience in Japan, in-depth research and relentless product testing in order to both deliver to customers' expectations and produce systems befitting the Toyota name," said Bucci. "Safety Connect and Lexus Enform are the results of several years of due diligence and dedicated teams working in
partnership with our highly experienced providers."
Safety Connect: A Secure Foundation
Available on both Lexus and Toyota brands, Safety Connect is the cornerstone of Toyota's new telematics offerings and will provide fundamental services to help extend confidence to drivers on the road.
"While a portion of the industry appears to be migrating to reliance upon wireless handheld devices to deliver in-vehicle safety, we've followed our engineering insights and Toyota's G-Book and G-Link roots in Japan," said Bucci. "Based on our experience and research, our core safety and security technology is embedded in the vehicle to help ensure reliability and responsiveness."
As the foundation of Toyota's telematics systems and available on select vehicles,
Safety Connect will include the following four safety and security facets:
Automatic Collision Notification (ACN)
Safety Connect's ACN will help drivers receive the necessary response from emergency teams. In the event of either an airbag deployment or a severe rear-end collision; the response center will be automatically notified via embedded cellular technology and GPS. Once the response center agent receives the vehicle ID and the vehicle's location, the agent can speak with the driver to ascertain the level of emergency. If the driver is unable to communicate, the agent automatically treats the call as an emergency. The response center agent then uses the vehicle's GPS location to determine the nearest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) available to provide emergency support and will offer to stay on the line until emergency assistance arrives.
Stolen Vehicle Location (SVL)
Safety Connect subscribers will be able to rely on an extra level of security in the event that their vehicle is stolen. If this should happen, Safety Connect will assist in tracking the location of the stolen vehicle using the vehicle's GPS. Once a police report has been filed and the owner contacts the Safety Connect call center to report the theft, call center agents will assist local authorities to help recover the vehicle-keeping the owner apprised of the progress.
Emergency Assistance Button (SOS)
All Safety Connect–enabled vehicles will come equipped with an SOS button, with the call center's 24-hour emergency assistance only a press away. When an emergency situation develops, subscribed customers will be able to quickly reach the Safety Connect response center to communicate their emergency. Again using embedded cellular and GPS technology, the agent will assess the situation and dispatch the necessary assistance based on the type of emergency.
When a driver encounters problems on the road, the Safety Connect response center will be available for roadside assistance 24 hours a day via the SOS button. Call center agents will help drivers receive aid for a wide range of needs, such as towing, jump start, flat tire, fuel delivery, etc. With this service, drivers will not need to rely on additional membership organizations for roadside coverage to help them get back on the road.
All Safety Connect calls will be sent directly to Toyota's dedicated, specialized telematics response center operated by ATX Group, a leading provider of global automotive telematics services for over a decade. Drivers can rest even easier with the added level of confidence that comes with having this service as the backbone of Safety Connect's security offerings.
Lexus Enform: Pinnacle of Convenience
Lexus Enform takes Toyota's telematics services to a new level of care with a diverse assortment of offerings ranging from information and convenience capabilities to up-to-the-minute weather reports.
"We specifically steered away from a one-size-fits-all approach," explained Bucci, "recognizing that we have two distinct markets for telematics products and services and catering our offerings to each of our valued customer sets."
The cornerstones of Lexus Enform are two convenience-based services: Destination Assist and eDestination. With these features, Lexus vehicles can become a virtual information tool-giving drivers the ability to send and receive the data they choose and need along the way. Both services also rest on the solid foundation of Toyota's dedicated ATX call center.
Live-operator assistance with finding destinations will be just the press of a button away with Destination Assist. While either parked or driving, the driver will be able to easily connect to an operator to ask for help finding local points of interest from dining to gas stations, dry cleaners to museums. As an added bonus to Lexus drivers, Zagat's best-in-breed restaurant content will also be available via Destination Assist.
Destination Assist operators will steer drivers to the nearest or preferred destination, giving them either the specific business or address requested or nearby choices if, for example, the call is for a specific type of cuisine but the driver does not know the exact restaurant they would like to visit. Once the driver tells the operator their choice, the destination is sent wirelessly to the vehicle's navigation system.
An expedient self-service feature of Lexus Enform is eDestination, which will allow the user to go online, via the Lexus owners' Web site, to select and organize destinations of their choice and then send them wirelessly to their vehicle. From any computer, Lexus Enform-subscribed owners will be able to simply log in to their account and search for destinations by one of three options, point of interest (POI) name, category, or address, in Lexus' POI database-the same nationwide database in the vehicle's navigation system. By entering either a city and state or a Zip code with their search option, they will receive a numbered list of relevant choices all called out on a map screen. The user can then simply select the destination of their choice and send it to a folder-creating a new one or inserting it into one they have already built. When finished making selections and creating folders, the user simply selects "save to vehicle" and their personalized destinations will be available to load into the vehicle's navigation system upon the next start up. Going hand in hand with the quality our drivers have come to expect and rely upon in Lexus vehicles, Lexus Enform drivers will also have easy online access to Zagat-rated restaurants nationwide via eDestination.
eDestination will enable users to build their library of destinations in up to 20 customized folders with up to 10 destinations per folder. This will enable Lexus Enform subscribers to select and send an unprecedented total of 200 personalized destinations to their vehicle. The folder cache will always be present online for users to save or update as they see fit. For example, folders with the addresses of friends, family, or favorite local restaurants can be saved and maintained while new folders can be created for specific occasions-a vacation ("Road Trip to Boston") or business meetings ("LA Biz Travel")-and updated to meet current plans. Wherever Lexus drivers need to go, they will be able to plan trips easily and in advance, and even update from the road, with eDestination.
Flexible Voice Interface
Because Lexus Enform is a navigation-based system, vehicles equipped with navi will automatically include one of Lexus Enform's most functional-and sure to be favorite-systems, the updated voice recognition system currently only available on the MY10 Lexus RX vehicles. This new casual-speech voice recognition system, called voice command, features VoiceBox Technology's award-winning, patented Conversational Voice Search, and allows drivers to speak more flexible, conversational commands for easier access and control.
Voice command software enhances standard voice recognition and functions as a supplementary layer "on top" of the existing voice recognition system, an application not seen before in the automotive world. Without voice command, users must speak commands in a specific order, e.g., "Phone > Dial by Name > Dial Bob." Now this same task can be completed simply by saying, "Call Bob at home." The voice command system also works to control many functions of the audio system, heating and air conditioning, and the navigation system. Commands such as, "Make it cooler," "Let's find XM channel 46," "I want a Japanese restaurant," and "Where's the nearest gas station along my route?" make tasks easier to accomplish, in fewer steps, with more flexible speech, and allow the driver to focus more on the road ahead.
Mobile Audio Casts with Lexus Insider
One thing we know about Lexus drivers is that they appreciate up-to-the-minute information about the world around them. With Lexus Insider, a complimentary service on all Lexus Enform navigation-equipped vehicles, customers will be able to listen to audio broadcasts in their vehicles with the push of a button. A first in the industry, brief
"hot topic" audio programmes, hand selected for our customers, will be sent regularly to vehicles and made available to drivers to enjoy whenever they see fit. Customers who would prefer not to receive Lexus Insider broadcasts will be able to easily opt out of the service. Those customers who do elect to receive them will be able to select whether or not to receive automatic notifications when news is available.
Topics will include vehicle technology insights, with tips on their specific model of Lexus vehicle and its capabilities; updates on Lexus-exclusive regional events; and selections from Lexus magazine lifestyle articles. Additionally, customers will also receive Insider insights into exclusive destinations appealing to Lexus drivers. Lexus drivers alone will benefit from the added convenience of having these broadcast transmissions also include the destination's information provided as a downloadable POI, enabling them to easily save the spot to their navigation.
Because broadcast data transmission to automobiles is necessarily complicated by the unpredictable nature of when, and for how long, vehicles will be powered on, Lexus Insider makes use of innovative technology to optimize delivery. Thus equipped, Lexus Enform vehicles can successfully receive audio casts in spite of disruptions to transmissions-helping to ensure that listeners receive Lexus Insider stories seamlessly and without complications.
XM – Beyond Radio
Lexus Enform vehicles will be factory ready for subscriptions to a variety of innovative XM services. Standard equipment on Lexus vehicles will include available XM satellite radio programming and its available "Best of SIRIUS" content. Additionally, Lexus Enform vehicles will also feature XM NavTraffic® and XM NavWeatherTM services. These XM services will offer three-month trials, after which subscriptions will be required. XM NavTraffic informs the driver of current traffic conditions with real-time traffic displays. When traffic problems are detected, in order to avoid them the navigation system alerts the driver so that the route can be adjusted. XM NavWeather will provide near real-time weather conditions as well as spoken and nav-screen forecasts, both based on official National Weather Service data. Lexus Enform will also provide the platform for XM® Sports and Stocks, a service included with audio programming, which provides in-car personalized updates on customer-selected sports and stocks so drivers can stay connected to their favorite teams and investment data while on the road. Additionally, Lexus Enform's advanced voice command system will be equipped to operate many functions of all XM services, adding a new level of flexibility.
Safety Connect and Lexus Enform will be delivered on select models beginning in late summer 2009 as embedded, factory-installed hardware that can be activated upon subscription at dealerships. An included one-year trial subscription will be offered for new vehicle purchases. More details on product roll-out will be announced closer to launch.