Weekly Brief: Amazon ramps up aftermarket offerings in time for holidays

Weekly Brief: Amazon ramps up aftermarket offerings in time for holidays

In this week’s Brief: Amazon, Mojio, Harman, GM, Google, Intel, INRIX, AT&T, Octo Telematics, Sierra Wireless, MapmyIndia, Ford and Mishor 3D.

Want a connected car? Order one on Amazon.

Mojio revealed that its aftermarket telematics device, which works on any car built after 1996, is now available on Amazon.com in North America and Canada for $149 plus shipping. With Mojio, Amazon now offers a number of next-gen, cloud-based aftermarket devices on its e-shelves — Zubie, which retails for $99 and qualifies for Amazon Prime, is another prominent one — begging the question if the world’s largest e-retailer can give a much-needed boost to the aftermarket.

Mojio plugs into the on-board diagnostic port and uploads hundreds of data points to the cloud, thereby allowing drivers to stay apprised of their cars’ conditions and whereabouts on smartphones, tablets, laptops, you name it. Mojio also harnesses 3G connectivity to connect users with real-time traffic reports and turn-by-turn directions, nearby points of interest and real-time driving scores.

In other news, word leaked out of the Harman camp that GM will not be integrating the standard Android Auto platform in future vehicles after all; the OEM has instead enlisted Harman’s services to build a custom Android-based next-gen infotainment system. Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal said on a quarterly conference call that GM wants a full in-dash operating system that’s more than simply a mirror for a smartphone (as Android Auto would be), while still offering the user friendliness and familiarity of the Android interface. Paliwal said that Harman is working closely with Google on the system, which is scheduled for late 2016 and will be available to other automakers one life cycle after GM gets it. GM is yet to confirm.

Intel invested $10 million in INRIX as part of a strategic collaboration focused on developing next-generation analytics platforms and applications for smart cities. Intel and INRIX recently demoed a joint smart cities application at the White House that helps cities more cost-effectively monitor air quality levels, better manage massive population growth and reduce traffic congestion during major events. Cities around the world are projected to spend an estimated $41 trillion in the next 20 years upgrading their infrastructures toward the collaborative smart cities initiative.

More than 90% of drivers know that texting and driving is dangerous — that the good news from a new study published by AT&T. The bad news? 75% admit to at least glancing at their phones while behind the wheel and 30% say they can easily do several things at once as a justification for shooting off texts while their cars are on the go. AT&T published the study in conjunction with the iOS release of its free DriveMode app, which curtails texting behind the wheel by silencing incoming texts and automatically replying to them to let senders know that a driver is behind the wheel.

On the insurance telematics front, Octo Telematics released the Super Easy Telematics Box in Europe, an on-board telematics unit designed to be installed by the end customer without the help of professional assistance. Once installed, the box captures telematics data like time of day and driving patterns and returns them to Octo, who in turn provides a driver score to the driver’s insurance agency. Sierra Wireless will provide the connectivity for the device, which is available directly from insurance companies across Europe.

In infotainment news, MapmyIndia launched what it’s pegging as India’s first complete infotainment system. The Android-based solution — ANDROID 2-DIN — includes three screens, one that sits in the front dash and two implanted into rear-seat headrests. Features include turn-by-turn directions, points of interest, Internet radio and built-in DVD player, USB and SD Card slots for games on the rear screens. The system costs roughly $830 (INR 50,800) and can be installed at car dealerships or car accessory stores throughout India.

Finally, Ford gave a big endorsement to head-up technology when it agreed to pay Mishor 3D, an Israeli start-up, an undisclosed sum to custom fit its solution to Ford cars. Mishor’s ShadowBox technology channels augmented reality to project arrows onto the road for turn-by-turn directions, mark surrounding points of interest with pins and text descriptions, point out pedestrians approaching the car and turn lane dividers bright red when drivers veer from the center of their lanes. Mishor uses a mix of geolocation data and accelerometer sensors to power ShadowBox. Ford is considering integrating the technology in its high- to mid-range cars starting in 2016.

Check out this video for a sneak peek at how ShadowBox works.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

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