Weekly Brief: IoT heats up with new Telit-Google challenge & VW Data Lab

In this week’s Brief: Telit Wireless Solutions, Google Cloud Platform, Volkswagen Group, Innovation Fund of Volkswagen, Apple, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Wall Street Journal, Nokia HERE, Bing Maps, Clearflow, FuelSignal, Ford, LA Auto Show, International CES, Tech Mahindra and AT&T.

Think the connected car is cool? Imagine a world in which the connected car is connected to limitless other connected devices, all working together to fuel symbiotic solutions that make the world more efficient, more safe, and better informed.

That’s the idea of the Internet of Things (IoT), and it stood front and center in two of last week’s biggest stories. First, Telit Wireless Solutions launched the IoT Big Data Challenge in collaboration with the Google Cloud Platform. The goal is to engage the world’s top developers in promoting and accelerating innovation around IoT.

Developers are invited to create web-based and mobile applications based on data from a wide variety of connected sensors and devices, including those in vehicles, and use Google Cloud Platform to harvest the IoT data in order to illustrate the power and simplicity of developing compelling IoT solutions in the following three categories: ?business transformation, healthy and happy living and the good of mankind. The challenge is open to individuals, teams and organizations from around the globe; the deadline for submission is January 9, 2015, and winners will be announced January 27, 2015.

For more information or to register for the IoT Big Data Challenge, visit www.telitgcp4iot.com.

Meanwhile Volkswagen Group launched a Data Lab in Munich, Germany, whose goal is to create new solutions in the fields of Big Data and IoT. The specific focus is to both strengthen internal IT solutions within the VW Group and to improve the networking of vehicles with their environment – from the smartphone to public traffic management.

“Digitalization is fundamentally changing people’s mobility expectations,” says Wolfram Thomas, Volkswagen Group Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas. “The Data Lab will help us provide answers to questions concerning the mobility of the future at an early stage and in an unconventional way.”

The Data Lab received financial support from the Innovation Fund of Volkswagen and its solutions are open to all VW Group brands.

In other news, Apple responded to worrisome research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety back in October (see our original brief on that news item here), which suggested that hands-free systems built around voice-based technologies actually increase mental distraction for drivers — and that Apple CarPlay was the worst of the systems out there in this respect. Erroneous! said Apple in a statement published in the Wall Street Journal, pointing out that the research failed to actually use Apple CarPlay or the driving-specific Siri Eyes Free, instead requiring drivers to hold their smartphones and use the Siri function therein. A pretty damning insight as to the research’s veracity. Let the record note, however, that many studies have corroborated AAA’s basic takeaway that voice-based technologies can increase distraction due to poor sound quality and getting instructions wrong.

Nokia HERE launched Predictive Traffic, a traffic forecasting technology that anticipates future traffic conditions in real-time. The app considers more than 100 different traffic behavior profiles per road segment to provide up-to-the-minute traffic forecasts as far as 12 hours into the future. HERE combines these forecasts with real-time conditions to provide travelers with estimated arrival times for their destinations up to 20% more accurate than rival solutions. The technology is targeted at automakers, app developers and transportation agencies.

See this video for more.

In a similar vein, Bing Maps announced that it has expanded its integration of traffic-aware routing in the US to all maps worldwide. When calculating traffic-based trip time and directions, Bing now uses both live traffic data and extrapolated traffic data, the latter of which helps determine what traffic is like on roads that don’t report live traffic data. For example, Bing Maps extrapolates traffic on highway ramps by considering live traffic data for the highway itself and traffic on the surrounding surface streets. The technology driving Bing traffic-aware routing is called Clearflow.

FuelSignal won the app-developer hackathon “Connected Car-Connected City App Pursuit” sponsored by Ford at the LA Auto Show. FuelSignal monitors vehicle fuel level through the AppLink application programming interface and, when the fuel level drops low, provides an alert, allowing the driver to find the nearest gas station with a discounted price. FuelSignal also allows drivers to pay for fuel using a mobile wallet at the pump via AppLink. Ford Sync will feature FuelSignal come International CES 2015 in Las Vegas.

Finally, on the usage-based-insurance (UBI) front, Tech Mahindra launched a big data and predictive analysis driven platform for auto insurers in conjunction with AT&T. The platform allows personal and commercial auto insurance players to adjust premiums according to actual usage patterns of individual drivers instead of industry averages. It’s hosted on the seamless AT&T cloud and served through AT&T’s global machine-to-machine (M2M) capabilities. The initial launch encompasses two products, UBI Lite and UBI Plus, the latter of which takes into account real-time physical world data to provide accurate information.

he 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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