Microsoft has tied up with yet another major corporate, but this one isn’t really from the technology stream, per se. Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) is Microsoft’s new partner. With a strategic partnership, these two major companies – in their respective fields – plan to build a global platform for TMC’s next-generation telematics services using the Windows Azure platform. Telematics, in case you’re not too familiar with it, is the fusing of telecommunications and information technologies in vehicles; it can encompass GPS systems, energy management and other multimedia technologies.
Big companies with big plans
As part of the partnership, the two companies plan to participate in a 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a TMC subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers. The two companies aim to help develop and deploy telematics applications on the Windows Azure platform, which includes Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure, starting with TMC’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. 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.
As part of its smart-grid activities, aimed at achieving a low-carbon society through efficient energy use, TMC is conducting trials in Japan of its Toyota Smart Center pilot program, which plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. TMC believes that, as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management. Services with Bing and the Microsoft Tellme voice applications have already been embedded into vehicles and Microsoft aims at boosting the capabilities of in car communication.
“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.” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when referring to this new tie up.
“Creating these more efficient, more environmentally advanced products will be our contribution to society. To achieve this, it is important to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart centre energy-management systems.” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp.
With cars like the Prius now available in India, but at extremely high price tags, 2015 does sound a little bit far away. With any luck, by that time, hybrid car technology will become a little more affordable.