What do you do when your love of driving conflicts with your deep and abiding love of conference calls? That’s a question Volvo hopes it can finally answer, with the integration of Skype for Business directly into its 90 series cars, letting drivers see their future meetings, and join via a single button press on the in-car center console infotainment touchscreen.
The Skype integration is a way of getting around the messier parts of joining conference calls, including entering long participant pin codes, and sometimes sequential button requirements that feed you through a chain of options before you ever even get to the meeting itself. Volvo and Microsoft are clearly doing everything they can to position this as a distraction reducer, rather than the other way around.
Skype in the car initially sounds like a terrible idea, since it’s natural to assume that you’re going to be video chatting if you’re more familiar with Skype’s early role as a video communication pioneer. But it’s true that people who’re motivated to do business calls on the road aren’t going to change their habits just because it isn’t easy to get on a call. Minimizing the steps required in joining the conference truly should help in terms of keeping driver focus as much as possible on the road itself.
This is also just a start for the Microsoft/Volvo alliance, which also involves figuring out how virtual assistant Cortana might benefit busy drivers through voice recognition and intelligent recognition of context, along with insights derived from calendars and other sources. Even further down the road, Volvo is predicting an autonomous vehicle future where having productivity software available in the car makes even more sense.
As a first step, this might not seem like much, but it’s a way for Volvo and Microsoft to begin thinking about that future, and what it might look like when a commute is more than just time to focus on getting from point A to point B safely.