All is not quiet on the UBI front Weekly Brief—9.3.2012

All is not quiet on the UBI front Weekly Brief—9.3.2012

In this week's Brief: Towers Watson, Hughes Telematics, TomTom, Google, Garmin, INRIX, Honda, Agero, Samsung, Panasonic, OmniVision Technologies, Nokia and NAVTEQ

Another week, another big announcement on the UBI front. Towers Watson and Hughes Telematics formed a strategic alliance to provide a cost-effective way for U.S. insurers to rapidly go to market with a usage-based insurance product.

Towers Watson's DriveAbility service helps insurers convert driving data into industry-applicable metrics to enable new insurance products and services for consumers. Hughes will utilize its automotive telematics platform, In-Drive, to offer enhanced data services and provide the connectivity for additional telematics features.

This is Hughes Telematics’s first big move since its acquisition by Verizon in June.

“This alliance will leverage HTI's strength in automotive telematics and Towers Watson's analytical expertise to deliver cost-effective UBI data services for the automobile insurance industry,” says Kevin Link, senior vice president, Hughes Telematics.

Following several years of hinting, TomTom at last unveiled a navigation application for Android. The app will include TomTom's on-board maps, IQ Routes and HD Traffic to provide up-to-date maps, fastest route identification, and accurate arrival times.

The delay for the Android app is likely due to contractual obligations with Google, as TomTom provided Google with digital maps that would compete against an Android app. The application is set for release in October 2012.

Across the aisle in the PND battle, Garmin announced plans to launch a suite of PNDs built around digital radio broadcast (DAB) for steady traffic updates. The first DAB products will hit the market in the UK, with INRIX providing the data.

Germany is the second country slated for deployment in early 2013. Garmin’s DAB gambit is in stark contrast TomTom, which has marked its course forward via cellular, two-way connected PNDs and a monthly or annual subscription package.                     

Honda launched the electric vehicle version of its HondaLink smartphone integration system in the 2013 Honda Fit EV. HondaLink EV provides a smartphone or tablet application and a personalized web portal to assist the owner with wirelessly managing vehicle charging, mapping their available driving range and setting their interior cabin temperature remotely. The system will run on Agero technology.

Samsung released Drive Link, a smartphone app that provides shortcuts to useful driving applications and streamlines use of music, navigation, and hands-free talking functionality for drivers.

Users can save destinations and set new destinations with a single click of the text in a text message or online. The Drive Link app can also connect smartphones to the in-vehicle Infotainment system if MirrorLink is present.

In related news, Panasonic launched the MirrorLink service in Japan. MirrorLink, which was rolled out in Europe in November 2011 presents a mirror of a user’s Android-based smartphone on the in-dash touchscreen display of a vehicle and enables navigation, music and social networking apps.

The program will start with Toyota, and Panasonic aims to expand to other auto OEMs in the Japanese market in the future.

OmniVision Technologies unveiled a low-cost, high-performance NTSC analog and digital image sensor designed specifically for mainstream automotive applications. The sensor’s name isn’t much—OV7955—but its low-light sensitivity and its ability to fit into ultra-compact modules may facilitate the rollout of rear-view, surround-view and blind spot detection systems.

For the first time, Brazilian drivers have a way to monitor traffic incidents in real time, thanks to the unveiling of “NAVTEQ Traffic Incidents” from Nokia. Brazil boasts more than 60 million registered vehicles, which leads to the dubious distinction of more than a million accidents and 45,000 traffic-related deaths per year.

Nokia conducted a study that found that Brazilian drivers now spend on average 40 minutes per day in traffic jams. NAVTEQ Traffic Incidents will illuminate the reason traffic is slow or at a standstill and will help drivers to make informed navigation decisions. 

“With over 6,500 kilometers of roadways monitored in Brazil, we can identify incidents such as disabled vehicles, flooding, detours, collisions, road work, among other events that may affect traffic flow,” says Helder de Azevedo, Latin America Sales Director at Nokia, Location & Commerce.

“By providing the exact location of the incident that is causing the delay, drivers will have an even greater ease in redefining their routes.”

For more on the telematics market in Latin America, see Special Report: Telematics and emerging markets.

For all the latest trends in Brazil, check out Telematics Brazil & LATAM 2012 on September 12-13 in Sao Paulo.

For all the latest trends in insurance telematics, check out Insurance Telematics USA 2012 on September 5-6 in Chicago.

For exclusive insurance telematics business analysis and insight, read TU’s Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics report.

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