Verizon launches new vehicle platform

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Verizon has been involved in telematics development for many years, but not on any large scale. With the growth the industry is experiencing as of late, clearly the telecoms company is seeing green (in more ways than one) as it’s announced a new venture called the Verizon Vehicle platform, which will provide telematics services to a large number of cars, almost anywhere in the US.

Compatible with almost every vehicle produced since 1996, Verizon’s Vehicle hardware plugs directly into the car’s diagnostic port and can provide basic information about the vehicle that can help the driver keep on top of maintenance. It can even email, text or call the owner in the event of a potential issue that could compromise vehicle safety or performance. Verizon’s new platform then allows the driver to get in touch with a qualified service mechanic immediately to summon roadside assistance if required.

With a built in GPS function, the repairmen can then find the driver very easily, letting them make a quick and responsive callout that means the user isn’t waiting around for too long in a potentially dangerous situation.

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On top of that quite nifty feature however, is another that’s talked up: finding your car when you’ve parked it and forgotten to note where it was. Again, using the built in GPS system you can locate your case using a handy Verizon tool. It can even keep track of how long you have left on a parking meter to warn you if you’re about to run out of time and potentially face penalty charges.

Some of its other features are a little more typical however, like it’s ability to keep track of a vehicle when it’s been stolen, thereby allowing to the police to go straight to where it is and recover it for you in no time.

Verizon plans to release its telematics hardware/software package later this year, though it hasn’t been clear on when exactly that will be or how much the device can be expected to cost.

As RCRWireless points out, if this product sells well, it will be a triumphant return to telematics for Verizon, which previously had quite a presence in the commercial sector through a deal with General Motors and its OnStar package. However, when AT&T secured that deal last year, ousting Verizon, it lost a lot of market influence. With its new, dedicated telematics platform however it may well be able to recapture some of that market and expand further in the future as telematics becomes more widely adopted.

Telematics in the US is a little different from the UK. While here, insurers and dedicated telematics firms still rule the roost, in the US, all of the major telecoms providers are getting in on the action, showing a lot of confidence in an industry that just a few years ago was only really considered useful for tracking stolen vehicles.

Now of course, its benefits are much more varied.

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.