Drivers, meet Robin Weekly Brief—6.25.2012

Drivers, meet Robin Weekly Brief—6.25.2012

In this week's Brief: Apple, Magnifis, Microsoft, the European Parliament, the Internal Market and Transport Committees, the European Commission, TomTom, Samsung, AutoNavi, OpenSynergy, and Ford

In early June Apple demoed “Eyes Free,” a new vehicle integration for Siri. This week Android responded with “Robin,” a similar eyes free assistant that allows drivers to interact with their phones by voice and minimal hand gestures.

A wave of a hand in front of an Android phone on the dashboard of a car engages the system, and its voice comprehension takes into consideration context while delivering local search, navigation, real-time traffic and parking information, gas prices, and weather.

Robin is the brainchild of Magnifis, a speech interface provider in Palo Alto, and is currently available in beta across the U.S.

“Today, people still think of a car assistant primarily in terms of navigation," says Magnifis co-founder and CEO Ilya Eckstein. "But in fact, we don't use navigation much, as most of the time we know our way around. What we really need in the car is someone to watch out for us as we go and … help us remain fully connected and empowered behind the wheel.”

In outfitting its newest mobile phone operating system, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft elected to drop Bing Maps and integrate Nokia Maps in its place. Nokia’s 3D mapping service harnesses the likes of Navteq and Where.

Nokia Maps on Windows Phone 8 will now compete with Apple’s recently released maps app, which we reported on last week, and Google Maps, meaning that all the major smartphone operating systems save for Blackberry will ship with free, fully integrated, turn-by-turn GPS navigation.

Members of the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution declaring that all new cars must be fitted by 2015 with eCall devices to alert the rescue services automatically to road crashes through the public 112 emergency call system.

The Internal Market and Transport Committees also signed the resolution, which noted the seemingly inexorable delays in bringing eCall to reality and urged the European Commission to table legislation to make the eCall system mandatory by 2015.

In light of the fact that 50 percent of all local searches are now conducted on mobile devices, TomTom has expanded its local search engine, TomTom Places, into Sweden, Austria, Norway, Spain and Ireland. That makes the service available in 10 countries across Europe.

TomTom also announced the availability of its latest map products for the Asia Pacific region, delivering new coverage and features for automotive, enterprise and government customers. TomTom maps will now cover 51 countries and territories throughout Asia Pacific.

Samsung selected AutoNavi’s navigation app to be pre-installed on Samsung's new flagship smartphone, the GALAXY S III, which was officially launched in China this month.

AutoNavi’s map app offers all the familiars—comprehensive map data, 3-D views and real-time traffic information—plus some features designed specifically for the GALAXY S III, including a map layer of Samsung designated points-of-interest, smart search features, and mobile positioning through GPS, cell towers, and Wi-Fi.

AutoNavi’s nav app already comes pre-installed on Samsung's mobile handsets and tablets in China.

OpenSynergy introduced COQOS 5.0, a processor that enables the safe and secure integration of infotainment and automotive software on multicore processors.

Multicore systems are the standard in consumer electronics and are the foundation in most tablets and smartphones, but an optimal use of the technology in the automotive domain was not possible due to challenges like dividing the processor resources between applications with different criticality and satisfying requirements on safety, security and real-time performance.

COQOS 5.0 is based on the ARM Cortex-A9 multicore architecture.

Ford officially opened its Silicon Valley Lab (SVL) with the goal of engaging the tech community in the quest for the next great idea.

The new lab in California joins other global research and innovation facilities in Dearborn, Michigan; Aachen, Germany; Nanjing, China; and technology scouts in Tel Aviv, Israel.

"We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies," says Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "We are looking for unexpected solutions for the future, and we believe Silicon Valley is the right place to round out our global research organization.”

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