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Microsoft unveils connected vehicle platform

Microsoft unveils connected vehicle platform

It will stay agile, adapting to work on five key areas: predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities.

Carmakers from across the globe have been picking sides when it comes to personal assistants- with Ford opting for Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant coming to Hyundai vehicles - and while Cortana will arrive in BMW and Nissan cars in different forms, the move suggests that Microsoft is not willing to watch rival assistants drive off into the sunset without a fight. The company announced at the CES 2017 that its technology "Microsoft Azure" will provide these cars cloud-based software. BMW presented at CES 2017 a vision for the in-car application of Microsoft's Cortana.

This includes "Augmented Gesture Control", through which, for example, a driver might simply be able to point to a building as they pass by, in order to get information on it, while the vehicle does all the driving for them.

Peggy Johnson, Microsoft's executive vice-president for business development, clarified in the official announcement that this is not a finished product or an in-car operating system.

The Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform will be available as a public preview in 2017.

In fact, the firm seems to be going all-in with Microsoft services, having signed a multi-year contract to leverage Cortana, the Azure cloud and more in its future connected efforts.

Microsoft has entered into a strategic alliance with Renault-Nissan to develop next-generation technologies for connected vehicles.

Renault Nissan is the first company to adopt the entire platform to power its connected cars.

General Motors has a partnership with IBM's Watson division to mine vehicle data, figure out driver preferences and habits, and use that to direct people to gas stations, restaurants and other goods and services. It is a platform which uses cloud as the foundation.

The demonstration shown during the press conference depicted a driver speaking to Cortana using natural language, and Cortana asking context sensitive questions like whether she should engage the car's auto-parking system. It has already shown off a concept that relies heavily on the integration of Microsoft's Cortana voice-enabled digital assistant. Unlike Google, which has now spun off its own self-driving auto unit, as have a lot of other tech giants, Microsoft is clear that their Connected Vehicle platform is designed to help automakers create connected auto solutions, address customer requirements, and customize to differentiate their products from rivals.

And last week, Volvo Cars said it would make Skype for Business a feature of its new 90 Series cars. The company also recently announced a project with TomTom, HERE, and Esri to create more intelligent location-based services.

The platform will bring Microsoft tools and services, including Cortana, Skype for Business and Office 365, to cars.

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