Microsoft and Toyota: Connected Car in the Cloud

Microsoft and Toyota announced today they will form a partnership to deliver next-generation telematics solutions for Toyota’s customers.  Telematics can range from GPS to in car emergency call services but also include remote battery charging management in new electronic vehicles.

From the Microsoft press release: “TMC’s goal is to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services to Toyota automotive customers around the world.”

“Today’s announcement of our partnership with TMC is a great example of how we continue to invest in the automotive industry and of our commitment to power the services that are important to consumers,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “It further validates the power of the cloud, as the Windows Azure platform will provide the enterprise-grade, scalable platform that TMC needs to deliver telematics in its automobiles worldwide.”

“This new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota is an important step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world. Creating these more efficient, more environmentally advanced products will be our contribution to society,” said Akio Toyoda, president of TMC. “To achieve this, it is important to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart center energy-management systems.”

From the transcript of Akio Toyoda’s description of the partnership:

“Together, utilizing Windows Azure and Microsoft’s vast information infrastructure, we will boost the value of automobiles by making them “information terminals” …moving beyond today’s GPS navigation and wireless safety communications, while at the same time enhancing driver and traffic safety.

For example, this new system will include advanced car-telematics like virtual operators with voice recognition … management of vehicle charging to reduce stress on energy supply…and remote control of appliances, heating and lighting at home.

Toyota iq Electric EV

Toyota iq Electric EV

And with the introduction of Toyota plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles NEXT year…our cars will play a big role in the global expansion of what we call “smart centers” … on-board systems capable of better managing overall energy consumption of cars… driving trips…and homes.

So…as we enter the “smart grid” era…I am confident… that through our partnership… we WILL improve our products’ contribution to SUSTAINABLE mobility…in which we can meet the travel needs of our customers and support a good economy, while maintaining safety and preserving the environment. In short, the guiding principle of this venture is…to build a better future for our customers…automobiles…and all of society.”

There are a number of videos on the Toyota site including the interview with Balmer and Toyoda and a bunch of B-roll but I can’t embed them and can’t even get them to play on the site… give it a try if you want to.

From GigaOm: “While Toyota said it will consider similar partnerships with other companies, the deal is a good one for Microsoft. It highlights another major company building off the Windows Azure platform and gives it momentum in taking a similar approach to other car manufacturers. It will also be another way for Microsoft to push apps like Hohm, an energy management application that could be repurposed for vehicles. Toyoda said the car-maker chose Microsoft not only because of its more than 10-year relationship with the software giant but because Windows Azure allows Toyota to quickly ramp up services in the 170 countries where it operates.”

From Techcrunch: “Admirable! Good ideas all, but really the important thing is establishing the car as just another node in your grid of connected devices. If Microsoft can establish a beachhead in the intelligent car system field, that’s a lot of leverage later on as more services start coming to cars as natural extensions of someone’s data environment. Streaming video to the backseat screens, Pandora presets in the radio, calendar notifications with map integration, that kind of thing. Making Bing drivable will also help its share on the desktop.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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