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CES: GM's OnStar Enters Consumer Electronics Market

The Detroit-based OnStar business unit of General Motors Corp. is entering the consumer electronics market.

Beginning this summer, OnStar will sell a $299 electronic device that will allow motorists to install OnStar in virtually any make or model vehicle.

The form factor is a new rear view mirror.

"You just pop your old rear view mirror out and pop ours in, and you have all the features and functionality of OnStar," OnStar president Chris Preuss said at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "The only wiring required is getting the 12-volt to the mirror itself."

Preuss called the move "a major paradigm shift for us, moving to the consumer electronics market."

The device will offer the full complement of OnStar services for the usual price of $18 a month or $199 a year -- turn-by-turn navigation, 24-7 support, crash notification and what Preuss said was a "very slick" Bluetooth application that allows translation of cell phone text to voice and sending texts by voice.

Best Buy will be a major partner in the effort, Preuss said, but the devices will also be available at smaller chains and car audio stores.

Preuss said OnStar has been developing the device for about 18 months. He said the real key was the decreasing cost and increasing reliability of accelerometers, the devices used to measure sudden deceleration and trigger a crash notification alert.

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