Weekly Brief: HTC rumored to have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay rival in the works

Weekly Brief: HTC rumored to have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay rival in the works

In this week’s Brief: Reddit, HTC, Android Auto, Zendrive, Tracker, Intelligent Telematics, Jaguar, Sirius XM, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Rumors are dangerous – and oh so enticing. Last week user-generated news site Reddit leaked an internal document stating that Taiwanese smartphone maker HTCis working on a competitor to Android Auto. Not just a competitor, in fact, but a far more advanced and comprehensive smartphone integration platform, including a lane departure warning system, tire pressure monitoring, night vision, DVD, navigation, GPS, and an advanced user interface called Sense Automotive based on HTC’s existing Sense UI for smartphones.

The working name for the platform is HTC Cello, which could use some work as far as we’re concerned, but the rest sounds promising. And surprising too. Industry pundits have come to believe that in-car infotainment will be dominated by three players in the future: carmakers themselves alongside Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration platforms. HTC Cello complicates this model, suggesting that more smartphone makers, like Samsung or TK, could try to vie in the in-car arena as well.

We’ll keep you posted as or if HTC responds.

In other news, it was a big week on the fleet front, as Zendrive released an accident detection technology that uses only the sensors of a smartphone. Companies integrating the technology into their mobile apps and services can pinpoint the time and place of accidents, then offer features to notify emergency services or tow trucks or mitigate their own insurance liability on the road. The technology was refined by repeatedly putting phones into crash-test cars and normal cars on roads, and testing and refining the models on both “accidents” (crash-test collisions) and non-accident events (such as hard brakes, phone drops, etc), until the software had a 100% accuracy rate.

Tracker launched Tracker Fleet Evo, a telematics solution tailored for small fleets up to 20 vehicles. The offering allows small businesses to manage how much data they want out of their fleet management solutions. Standard features are route planning and mapping, vehicle location and asset status. Businesses can add geo-fences to alert when a vehicle leaves a set geographical perimeter, as well as journey playback for increased granularity into individual trips and driving issues.

Intelligent Telematics launched new offices in the U.S., South Africa, Coatia and the United Arab Emirates. The global expansion comes after the company found traction for its all-in-one 3G vehicle camera and fleet tracking tool in the U.K. The 3G camera works in tandem with a web-based interface that provides live vehicle tracking and fleet reporting.

Leaving fleet, Jaguar selected Sirius XM to provide call center support for the Jaguar and Land Rover suite of safety and security services. The automatic crash notification technology will automatically signal a SiriusXM response specialist to assist the vehicle’s occupant with notifying emergency responders in the event of an accident, provide the vehicle’s location, and communicate with the vehicle’s occupant until help arrives. An in-vehicle S.O.S. button allows the vehicle occupant to contact a SiriusXM specialist during an emergency.

Jaguar also unveiled its new XF model with a comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), from lane departure warnings and lane-keep assistance to autonomous braking and the real kicker – adaptive cruise control that automatically tracks the distance from your bumper to the next in stop and ensures you don’t collide. The car also features a laser head-up display to help mitigate driver distraction.

Finally, what’s it like to drive a self-driving car? Liberating? Boring?  Try sickening. That, according to a new report out of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan. The problem is that when people are driving cars themselves, they can anticipate the direction of movement; surely you’ve met someone who does well behind the wheel but not in the backseat. These same people will struggle with motion sickness in self-driving cars, when the swerves and acceleration, slow downs and stops are happening independent of their command. Granted, the report states that only six to 12 percent of people will get queasy in self-driving cars and carmakers can help by giving visual queues and maximizing the extent of the visual field.

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