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Hughes Telematics Raises $5 Million, Adds GPS Tracking for Seniors

Hughes Telematics Inc. (OTCBB:HUTC) has raised $5 million, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing. Hughes Telematics is transitioning from development to operational mode. The company, which offers emergency services and remote vehicle diagnostics for wireless fleet vehicle management, is transferring its technology to the health sector and other automotive markets.

In 2011, Hughes Telematics is expected to launch a mobile personal emergency response service aimed at seniors and their caregivers. The product consists of a wearable device with one-touch access to an emergency assistance call center. Inside the device, a cellular modem will enable wireless voice and data communications, and an embedded GPS combined with other sensors will allow location-based GPS tracking and monitoring of the person wearing the device.

Hughes Telematics provides emergency services and diagnostics and location-based information. At the end of 2009, Hughes started providing connected safety, convenience and location-based services to Mercedes-Benz customers. Hughes Telematics’ services should be standard in nearly all Mercedes’ U.S. vehicles by 2012.

The Hughes Telematics system offers much more than just GPS tracking and driving directions. It is an intricate network of systems and features that can cross-communicate. Here are some of the features being promoted by Hughes:

* Telematics GPS navigation, turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic information, traffic camera access — Initially, Hughes Telematics-equipped cars will be able to receive traffic information from Hughes’ own network, which will use numerous sources to develop traffic info. These sources include sensors built into traffic lights and other key locations, toll booths and traffic cameras. A few years down the road, data from each individual car could be incorporated as well, including speed, braking, and steering wheel position. Once all personal information is stripped away from the data, it can then be used to build a more complete and dynamic picture of current traffic conditions.

* Vehicle maintenance reminders, diagnostic health check, recall reminder, remote emissions testing — Currently, the various ECUs on a car can be accessed by a mechanic using an expensive piece of equipment known as a diagnostic scan tool. The Hughes Telematics system will allow the user to access diagnostic information through a Web interface, which can be configured to create maintenance reminders and automatic recall notices. Hughes already participates in a pilot program in California known as the Continuous Smog Check Testing Program. Volunteers with the proper equipment installed on their cars don’t need to visit a mechanic for required emissions testing — emissions levels are tested continuously, and an automatic notification is sent if levels ever fall out of compliance, without the user having to visit a mechanic for regular emissions tests.

* Roadside assistance, emergency calling, automatic crash notification and stolen vehicle locator service — These safety and security features are similar to those offered by other telematics systems, relying on GPS information and a cell phone connection. In addition to locating a stolen vehicle, the system can shut down a stolen car by cutting off the fuel supply. This feature could reduce the chance of dangerous high speed chases and increase the chances of recovering a stolen vehicle.

* Local information, stocks, weather, sports, news, streaming and storage of music and videos — Using Bluetooth wireless connections, cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players and other electronic devices can be integrated into the on-board telematics system.

More about Hughes Telematics – Hughes Telematics has been in business for about 5 years and is based in Atlanta. Hughes Telematics merged with Polaris Acquisition Corp. in a $700 million stock-swap deal in 2009. That deal gave Hughes Telematics about $80 million in capital to fund growth. Their main competitor is General Motors’ OnStar.