Apps for fleet Weekly Brief—4.15.2013

Apps for fleet Weekly Brief—4.15.2013

In this week’s Brief: Ford, GM, TomTom, HARMAN, iOnRoad Technologies, Panasonic, Aupeo GmbH, BMW, China Unicom, WirelessCar, Shanghai OnStar, Renault, France Télévisions, AVG Technologies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Superior Court

It’s been a good year for app ecosystems in the automotive sector. First Ford rolled out a new open developer program for 3rd party apps meant to stimulate app innovation. GM then unveiled an app framework that lets drivers add apps and features to their vehicles after the initial purchase. Other OEMs (like Renault with its R-Link store; see below) have since followed suit with new app programs and centers on the consumer front.

This week TomTom joined the fray on the fleet side of things with the launch of the TomTom Business Solutions App Center. The app center details a range of partner applications ready for integration with TomTom’s WEBFLEET platform. The goal is to create added value for connected vehicle and fleet management solutions while sparking further innovation and more integrated business applications for TomTom’s fleet management platform. The App Center will host in-vehicle and mobile applications in addition to backend solutions.

“The new App Center will enable companies to identify those solutions that can be swiftly deployed and integrated with their TomTom system,”  says Thomas Schmidt, TomTom Business Solutions’ Managing Director. “By bringing fleet management data together with information from a host of other software systems, companies can benefit from greater efficiencies across all areas of their business.”

In other news, HARMAN acquired iOnRoad Technologies, an Israeli developer of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), including the iOnRoad driving app, which has nearly a million users and offers a suite of driving assistance functions including augmented driving, collision warning and lane departure warning.

iOnRoad technology does not require dedicated hardware and runs on a variety of software platforms including Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux. Terms of the acquisition were not discussed, but HARMAN says it believes iOnRoad will strengthen its in-vehicle infotainment offerings.

Sticking on the acquisition front, Panasonic confirmed rumors that it had purchased Aupeo GmbH, a content and audio streaming service and technology platform provider. The Berlin-based Aupeo is licensed to operate streaming services in more than 40 countries, offering consumers a personalized music experience with more than 6,000 channels of terrestrial radio, podcast streaming and other services.

Panasonic says it will continue to rapidly deploy new products to meet the demands of existing Aupeo end-users as well as Panasonic’s customers in the automotive and other industries.

BMW took its ConnectedDrive platform live in China, where in-vehicle services will now include emergency, breakdown, and concierge calls as well as remote door unlock, traffic information and further internet-based services.

China Unicom is BMW’s local telecommunication supplier, while WirelessCar fuels the service via its Telematics Service Delivery Platform (TSDP), a comprehensive off-board platform based on the open framework Next Generation Telematics Pattern Now.

Shanghai OnStar meanwhile launched a new mobile app to enable subscribers to locate their vehicles. My Vehicle Location provides three locations – user location, vehicle location and vehicle destination – which are shown on a mobile phone display. The service also provides the best route between two locations.

Other existing telematics services from Shanghai OnStar include automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, remote door unlock, hands-free calling, and roadside assistance.

Renault made a pair of announcements about its R-Link connected navigation and multimedia platform:

First, it rolled out “francetvinfo,” a new app that allows users to read the news while the vehicle is stationary or listen to a news story or section of their choice thanks to the Text to Speech function – an option that has never been available on a conventional analogue car radio system. The Text to Speech function uses a synthetic voice to read out the news and the screen is partly concealed. France Télévisions is a partner on the endeavor. The app will come standard on select models with optional integration in others.

Second, Renault deployed web-scanning architecture from AVG Technologies to add an extra layer of security to R-Link and enable all apps in the Renault R-Link store to be protected from all known malware. The AVG logo will be displayed on the Renault R-Link store alongside the phrase “Protected by AVG.” All security scanning is done online, before users download apps to their R-Link device.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S. called for comments on a proposed amendment to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) Star Rating process, which would factor in ADAS capabilities. Currently on the table as possible rating factors are blind spot detection, warning technologies, lane departure prevention, and pedestrian detection and braking solutions. NHTSA welcomes input from industry players.

Finally, the California Superior Court ruled that a driver adjusting one’s map app while driving is tantamount to texting and should therefore be deemed illegal. The ruling says that drivers can use navigation functions on the sole condition that the app is configured to allow handsfree listening and talking. It remains to be seen what effect the California ban will have on other states or on national laws around distracted driving.

For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry Insight: Telematics and Apps

Coming up in 2013: Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 8-9 in London and Telematics India and South Asia 2013 on June 5-7 in India, plus TU Detroit June 5-6 in Detroit.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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