Weekly Brief: Microsoft announces Windows for the connected car

Weekly Brief: Microsoft announces Windows for the connected car

In this week’s Brief: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Novauris Technologies, Honda, Zubie, MapmyIndia, NAVITEL, Multispectral and Jaguar Land Rover.

Microsoft may have showed up late to the mobile revolution, but it has been taking big strides to catch up in the past few weeks.

First came Office for the iPad, then Universal Windows, a new platform to enable developers to use common code across PCs, smartphones and tablets. And last week, Microsoft turned its attention to the biggest mobile device of all with a new smartphone-integration platform for the car.

Windows for the connected car remains a work in progress, Microsoft stressed, although the basics appear to be in place. The platform will replicate the smartphone’s screen on the in-dash display via the MirrorLink standard. It will launch with a start page that leads to dedicated pages for maps, phone, music and HVAC with swipe navigation between the pages. And it will come with a personal assistant similar to Apple’s Siri called “Cortana.”

No word on when the platform will be ready, but suffice it to say it will be playing catch up to Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Projected Mode, both announced earlier this year.

Speaking of Apple, the company kept its foot on the accelerator on the car front with the purchase of Novauris Technologies, a U.K-based developer of automatic speech recognition technology called NovaSearch. NovaSearch is capable of analyzing syllable structure for better speech recognition.

Honda announced that the new MY2015 Honda Fit will come with a next-gen HondaLink that includes a new HondaLink Assist feature that automatically calls for emergency support in the event of an accident. The new HondaLink will also offer easier voice control, with a voice recognition technology that responds to more casual command phrases (like street names for navigation and radio stations for music), thus saving drivers the hassle of having to learn the words their cars understand.

On the fleet front, Zubie launched a fleet management solution targeted at small fleets of up to 20 vehicles. Zubie argues that robust fleet management solutions are eminently impractical for small fleets. Its solution is self-installed through the OBD2 port and offers driver performance reports, real-time GPS tracking and vehicle health alerts, all for $12.50 per vehicle per month, including hardware.

In India, MapmyIndia launched Rover, a vehicle-tracking solution that allows users to know where their cars are anytime anywhere. MapmyIndia is pitching Rover as both a consumer and business solution ensuring the safety of vehicles at all times. An internal battery keeps Rover operational when the engine has been turned off, and the product is water/dust proof and equipped with an internal antenna. 

In Brazil, NAVITEL partnered up with Multispectral, a 25-year veteran of the Brazilian mapping space, to produce Navitel Navigator, a navigation app for Android. Multispectral’s map of Brazil is considered to be the most comprehensive, with 1,125,064 km of roads, 5,564 cities, towns and other settlements, and more than 280,000 points of interest. Navitel Navigator costs €16 for a lifetime license, €8.99 for a one-year license, €2.24 for one month or €1.49 for two weeks.

Finally, what if the front of the car was to disappear from the driver’s view and a projection of the upcoming terrain were to take its place? Jaguar Land Rover is hard at work on the visual driver assistance technology called “Transparent Bonnet,” which it says would work via a head-up display on the windshield. Drivers commuting to and from work on a highway might find this a little silly, but those with a taste for backcountry roads would no doubt find it useful. 

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 contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014 on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014Connected Fleet Report 2014The Automotive HMI Report 2013 and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013.

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