By on May 27, 2015


General Motors recently received a patent allowing the automaker to sell your radio’s presets to the highest bidder at auction.

The patent — titled “System and method for auctioning geoboxed flexible, semi-locked or locked radio presets” — would let GM sell the presets to various bidders on different vehicles, Jalopnik reports, with each preset being geo-fenced.

Thus, if one were to be out on the road listening to NPR, the preset could switch abruptly from the sleepy sounds of “Morning Edition,” to the “wacky” antics of Scumdog McTatertot and the Mötley Breakfäst Crüe once the motorist entered the winning bidder’s geo-fence. Another scenario could have McDonald’s hijack your navigation settings when you were looking for Starbucks for breakfast.

Though GM has the patent to do this to its consumers to bring in revenue from the connected-vehicle space, whether it acts on the patent remains to be seen.

[Source: Cadillac]

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28 Comments on “General Motors Receives Patent To Sell ‘Geoboxed’ Radio Presets At Auction...”

  • avatar

    …another reason I can’t stand GM vehicles. In the ’90s it was the annoying automatic locks. Now this.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    What total BS by GM. All the more reason to listen to Satellite radio, my iPod, or streaming.

  • avatar

    Radio Silence

  • avatar

    I once explained to my Uncle that “they” [the Government] could see your viewing/listening history and create psychological profiles on him based on his favorites.

    He replied:

    They’ll say that he’s the coolest cat on the block.

  • avatar

    The only way this makes sense is it keeps the patent out anyone else’s control with no intent to use it themselves. If they used it in there products, all I can say is how little do they car for their customers.

    • 0 avatar

      They care for the power that they have over their customers and their ability to leverage it for monetary and political gain.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree. This could permit the car to pick presets based on your preferences: If you like talk radio, then you pick talk radio, and everywhere you go, you get talk radio presets. If you like rock, then you select rock and everywhere you go, you get rock presets.

      Will such an application ever make it into a car? Of course not.

  • avatar

    In the world of scanner radios, there are GPS lists, so, say if you go from NY to CT while driving, the scanner knows and automatically changes your listening from NY cops to CT cops. This isn’t a new concept, but the patent as applied to consumer Broadcast Band radios might be new.

    I drive a lot for a living. I have different banks of presets for “upstate” and “downstate”. There are many instances where the end of radio station one and beginning of station two is the radical format change mentioned above. I spend a lot of time with NPR, and oft it changes to religious broadcast on the low end of the band-no, thank you. I still pay for Sirius/XM because streaming music over cell phone networks is still quite choppy in a driving environment. Lose your LTE signal and catch a 3G cell and it’s bye bye Soma FM or TunedIn radio. Works for voice or text, but not data streams.

    You want to lock my presets ? Are you tripping ?

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Assuming I actually purchased a GM vehicle, I would make sure the deal I got discounted the cost of the OnStar and 4G electronics. Then, I’d disconnect the OnStar/4G antenna(s). Problem solved. It’s nobody’s business but my own what I’m listening to on the radio. Or even where I’m going, come to think of it. Is there still an OnStar delete option if you order a GM car? There used to be.

    • 0 avatar

      “Is there still an OnStar delete option if you order a GM car?”

      It’s so integrated into the car’s systems that it can’t be separated without killing it – oh wait, that’s several Star Trek episodes…

  • avatar

    Ah click bait.

    Just because a person or company patents an idea doesn’t mean it will ever see the light of day. One doesn’t have to dig far to find evil patents from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Exxon/Mobil, Monsanto, Nestle, etc etc that would make your skin crawl – and that have never, and will never see the light of day.

    GM is guilty of being a patent troll at worst.

  • avatar

    My guess is this isn’t designed to replace your presets automatically, but as an option.

    Ford radios used to have a feature where if you were in an unfamiliar location, you could hit a button and have it find local stations and set the presets for you. I can’t recall if it took the first six on the dial or the six strongest signals.

    Having a button to do that when you’re out of town isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’d actually find it kind of useful on rental cars.

  • avatar

    Just one more reason to not buy anything from GM.

  • avatar

    Wait… People still listen to broadcast, OTA radio?

    I stopped doing that once I could pipe audio (music, podcasts, audiobooks) from my MP3 player through my car stereo. Only time I listen to broadcast radio now is when somebody else is driving (entertainment choice is driver’s privilege).

  • avatar

    Before the freakout gets any bigger, note:

    1) Patent doesn’t mean product.

    2) GM’s never going to do that in a car they sell to an individual. They’ve never been remotely stupid enough to try.

    3) Bet you’ll be able to get a discount on a rental by being subjected to those presets, or fleets will use them to force drivers to listen to the weather station, or “approved channels only”.

    • 0 avatar

      (Or, as mentioned above, as an option you can turn on for “give me the local channel in this category automatically”.

      As an option, like that, it’s an actual *feature*, for road-trippers who like radio.

      Who seem to still exist, I guess?)

    • 0 avatar

      “They’ve never been remotely stupid enough to try.”

      That sounds like a challenge.

  • avatar

    Note to self: Do not buy any car that can talk to the internet in any way. I just hate the idea of that crap in my car’s systems. I’ll also only wear mechanical wristwatches. Get your ‘net out of my car and get off my lawn.

  • avatar

    Somehow I’m not at surprised to see this from GM. This is what’s to be expected from a company run by short-sighted accountants and not by engineers or marketing people. It boggles the mind that there are people actually paid by GM to think of crap like this. Maybe if they spent the time and money thinking about how to make better cars that consumers actually want to buy they would’t have had to go through a taxpayer-subsidized bankruptcy.

    If GM ever actually did this, it would be reason enough alone to keep me from ever buying a GM car.

  • avatar

    I’m assuming GM wants to patent this idea because it’s data that advertisers will pay for. That’s exactly the kind of usage/interests information that has made Google one of the wealthiest companies in the world.

    If you know what somebody listens to, you can now cross-reference this behavior with other behaviors (e.g., listens to the Catholic network AND buys fish?) to target market messages with much greater precision, not only in this medium but also in others. It’s very much in the pattern of modern database marketing, and it’s pretty insidious.

    And yes, this information about us obviously has a monetary value. I don’t usually participate in the TTAC national sport of “Government Motors” hysteria, but I do get a kick out of thinking I should ask to get my taxes lowered by whatever amount of money they make off this invasion of my privacy.

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