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Harman-Office-365-integration Car

Soon we’ll be able to work in our cars as Microsoft are collaborating with Harman to bring Office 365 software suite into automotive infotainment systems.  This was recently revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show  (CES) in Las Vegas. Microsoft’s Executive Vice President Peggy Johnson said:

“By ensuring that Office 365 services are seamlessly integrated with car and driver telematics and performance data, we will allow consumers to be more productive during their driving hours, while enjoying far greater convenience, safety and reliability,”

Harman design and engineer connected products and solutions for automakers like BMW, Toyota, Audi and Mercedes Benz.  This includes connected car systems, audio and visual products, enterprise automation and connected solutions so they are an ideal partner for Microsoft.   There is a growing emphasis on richer productivity and transforming the driver experience.

So how will it work?  By voice activation, most likely using Microsoft Cortana which is an intelligent personal assistant which Microsoft created for Windows 10 Mobile and other platforms.   Cortana was debuted in 2014 and is regarded as a key part of Microsoft’s future plans for operating systems, particularly for Windows and mobile usage.

Harman claims that users will be able to “safely get business deals done in the connected car of the future”.  Drivers will be able to schedule meetings and check emails.  When parked drivers can join Skype and other conference calls.  To ensure safety while driving and using Microsoft products Harman have integrated the features into the vehicle’s sensors.  So when the car is in manual mode you can only use the voice function.

Harman are in active talks with auto makers to include the Office 365 integration within the next 12 to 18 months.  So far, no names have been mentioned and Harman will only say they are talking to several manufacturers.

Microsoft are committed to deploying their technology in vehicles of the future through partnerships.  They have a collaboration with Volvo that enables voice controls through an app on the Microsoft Band 2 wearable device.  Volvo and Microsoft  intend to work on autonomous cars together going forward.  So it isn’t a stretch to imagine Volvo teaming up with Microsoft and Harman to implement Office 365 into Volvo cars in the not too distant future.

Many people prefer to work properly on a laptop so they can type and scroll to get tasks done but with autonomous/self driving cars coming users will be able to fully focus on Excel, Word, email  and Powerpoint.   So no more excuses for being late to meetings or not having had enough time or opportunity to get that financial forecast or report done in time!!!

Industry figures say that these developments are designed to improve aspects of our daily lives but some critics are slamming the idea saying that nothing is sacred anymore and they would rather their time in the car is spent chilling or relaxing to music.  People see their car as a ‘work free zone’ and a sanctum from home and work pressures.  However, there will also be many people who spend a lot of time in their car travelling as part of their work so this would be really helpful for them.  There’s a new phrase in town – the “Internet of Things” so washing machines, software, tvs and other electronic gadgets are all connected so we can set off functions for different devices remotely.  The danger of turning a car into a ‘virtual work station’ could be making workaholics of us all.  What do you think of the idea?

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