Telematics relates in some way to everything from automotive insurance premiums to fleet tracking and connected cars, and to make matters even more complicated, virtually every modern OEM infotainment system includes a number of telematics features, to the point where they are sometimes even referred to as telematics systems.
If it seems like there’s a huge, blurry, gray line between infotainment and telematics in cars, that’s because there is. In most infotainment systems, telematics makes up a huge part of the “info” portion of the portmanteau. This information often includes GPS navigation with external mapping and route calculations, cell-based concierge serves collision notification systems and other features that are all firmly rooted in-vehicle telematics, while the entertainment portion encompasses traditional head unit features like radio tuners and media players.
One of the original subscription-based OEM telematics systems, and also one of the most well known, is GM’s OnStar. In order to understand how telematics differs from infotainment, it’s useful to look at the evolution of OnStar, which started out as a simple button and a cellular connection to a concierge service. Drivers were able to access some of the same information you can get from modern infotainment systems, like driving directions, but all the heavy lifting was done off-site, instead of by an onboard computer.