Microsoft and Harman announced a new partnership today at CES 2016 to collaborate on integrating Harman’s Connected Car Systems and Microsoft’s productivity services. For those of you who might not be familiar with Harman, they are an American firm that designs, manufactures and markets audio equipment for automobiles as well as homes and theaters. In a press release, Harman said,
“This project will introduce new mobile productivity services, as well as utilize existing products, services and technologies, including cloud platforms, telematics and driver productivity, to offer better convenience, safety and reliability for drivers and greater operating efficiency for auto manufacturers. Most importantly, the collaboration will integrate key elements of Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite capabilities into HARMAN infotainment systems.”
While at first glance, the mention of integrating Office 365 into a car seems a little odd. It is hard to comprehend how accessing a Power Point deck or Excel spreadsheet could be either safe or useful when you are on the freeway. But the press release goes on to mention it will be integrating Office 365 services through “intelligent personal assistant software” for drivers to be able to make calls, respond to emails, and automatically join conference calls without having to manually enter a meeting passcode.
Cortana, Microsoft’s digital personal assistant, was never mentioned by name, but the statement describes very similar functionality to what Cortana can do on your phone. Microsoft has also previously said they are planning to integrate Cortana across all of their Office 365 services.
Harman also announced the new system which integrates Office 365 productivity services, will be updated incrementally with over-the-air updates to make sure the driver always has the latest version and features.
Connected car systems, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, have been standing out in the news this year at CES, as the long promised systems are finally making their way into production vehicles in a bigger way. While Microsoft’s connected car system was dropped by Ford when the auto manufacturer announced their new Sync 3 software, it looks like the technology company is finding new ways to get its services behind the wheel in this growing market space.