Waze adds $30 million Weekly Brief—10.24.11

Waze adds $30 million Weekly Brief—10.24.11

In this week's Brief: General Motors, Waze, TomTom, Ford, Pandora, Buick, and Telmap

At the Transport Systems World Congress in Orlando, General Motors debuted new technology that alerts drivers of potentially dangerous driving situations by using small, portable devices to create a wireless safety net.

GM has been testing the technology in two mobile platforms: a transponder the size of a GPS unit and a smartphone application that can be tied to the vehicle’s display unit.

Both are designed to gather information from other vehicles and infrastructure to warn drivers about slowed or stalled vehicles, hard-braking drivers, slippery roads, sharp curves and upcoming stop signs and intersections.

GM is looking to integrate the technologies into new vehicles as well as those dated up to 10 years.

“These safety systems could provide a significant leap in automotive safety, but their effectiveness goes up dramatically as more people use them,” said Don Grimm, senior researcher for GM’s Perception and Vehicle Control Systems group.

Waze announced an additional round of funding of $30 million. The funding will be used to support the free, turn-by-turn navigation app's rapidly growing user base of more than seven million drivers and launch its traffic-reporting platform in China.

In addition to its traditional markets in the US, France, Italy, and Israel, Waze has seen accelerated growth in new markets such as Spain, Malaysia, Mexico, and Brazil.

At the World Congress in Orlando, TomTom introduced Custom Probe Counts, a traffic product providing an indicator of traffic density for roads globally.

Geo-marketing agencies, insurance companies and other customers can use Custom Probe Counts as an additional dataset to complement traditional tools, creating efficiencies and increasing confidence in their location based studies.

TomTom was awarded the IT innovation accolade at the 2011 GreenFleet Awards for its WORKsmart–Eco solution, which helps fleets reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by providing drivers and managers with concise information about eco-friendly driving behavior.

TomTom also increased its stake in its Indian joint venture from 90 to 100 percent, renaming the venture TomTom India Ltd.

Ford released its latest free SYNC software update, G1 V3.2.2, to give more SYNC users the ability to have text messages read aloud to them while driving.

The update includes the emerging Message Access Profile (MAP) Bluetooth standard, which is custom-made for the automotive hands-free environment and outlines a set of features and procedures used to exchange email, SMS and MMS between devices—in this case SYNC and the smartphone.

Ford released MAP to select users earlier this year. The latest release extends the capability to the broader SYNC community.

Pandora announced that Buick will integrate Pandora’s personalized radio service into Buick IntelliLink, the luxury brand's in-car infotainment system, starting with Buick's 2012 sedans. Buick IntelliLink uses Bluetooth or USB to connect the driver's smartphone to a new high-res touch screen display radio.

The system offers three methods by which drivers can access and navigate their personalized Pandora stations, including controls on the touch screen display radio, buttons on the steering wheel, and voice commands.

Telmap launched Optus Go Places, a mobile location-based service based on Telmap's Mobile Location Companion. Optus Go Places lets users search for the most relevant local content via a layout of widgets, which serves as the application's home screen.

After choosing the widget that represents the type of content a user is interested in, they can choose from a variety of actions, with full turn-by-turn navigation and map view being among these options.

Optus Go Places is available free of charge to Optus customers.

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