Nurturing the innovators to maximise connectivity integration

Automakers are currently offering a range of connected experiences that import content from phones. This includes navigation, traffic information, music and search. However not much has been done to integrate the car with the respective smart devices.

It’s an issue that has occupied the minds of connectivity experts at Vinli, a connected car platform that includes a customisable OBD-II device.

“The challenge in delivering this cohesive experience inside and outside the car is platform cost, complexity and fragmentation,” says Vinli’s vice-president of automotive, Mark Spain. “Removing those obstacles is imminent as developers and automakers begin integrating into existing and future head-units and deliver-facing experiences as defined by the mobile and cloud services ecosystems.”

Innovators are taking advantage of the OBD in order to build high-quality products true to their vision without requiring permission from carmakers or Ist Tier suppliers. Companies such as Dash have made a deliberate choice from the start to not have their own software. Instead they partner with OBD hardware manufacturers and their latest partnership is with AllState and the Department of Transportation on the federally funded Drive Smart programme.

“The OBD will eventually become obsolete, as it’s replaced by smartphone sensors and detect third party access to ECU and car sensor data,” says Jamyn Edis, founder and CEO of Dash Labs. “Companies are already taking an approach to develop integrated, selective partnerships with auto industry leaders in order to extend platforms across multiple segments in the market.”

Recently Vinli raised $221,479 (£145,815) in two months from 1,816 backers through Indiegogo, three times their initial goal. They are currently producing 2,240 units of hardware to send to the backers in the following months. The US backers will be receiving the devices in late fall. The hardware that has the retail price of $149 includes all the comapany’s apps and services, a WiFi hotspot, 4G LTE internet access, built in GPS, Bluetooth connectivity and remote vehicle tracking.

While Indiegogo is a popular website used for crowd sourcing, it isn't common to use it for pre-selling devices. Vinli was drawn to Indiegogo because of the community aspect of the platform – designed to be open and transparent. This is a unique approach to advertise and sell new products internationally at minimum cost.

Vinli’s Blake Burris says it’s vital that the industry takes steps to increase the number of developers in the connected car and urban mobility space. His organisation sponsors hackathons and meetups around the world and also frequently co-organise larger events and help drive the challenges, promotion and execution. To ensure the best outcome they organise ideation and team formation sessions led by subject matter experts.

“We have directly instigated the creation of 20+ meetups worldwide – from Israel to India and all over the United States,” says Burris. “To date, 3,000 people have joined these groups and we expect that number to quadruple over the next year.”

These events present the opportunity to meet talented up-and-coming developers while providing the tools necessary to create apps for connected cars.

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