Wireless carriers come marching in Weekly Brief—8.13.2012

Wireless carriers come marching in Weekly Brief—8.13.2012

In this week's Brief: Sprint, Chrysler, Ford, HARMAN, Interchain Solution, Tweddle, Audi, BMW and Stitcher Radio

The shadow of wireless carriers looms larger over the telematics industry this week, as Sprint announced a partnership with Chrysler to bring to market a vehicle that connects to the wireless network—without an onboard smartphone there to provide the connectivity.

Previous iterations of Chrysler’s Uconnect Access platform enabled a wireless experience for the driver but needed a smartphone to make it happen. The new joint infotainment platform will debut on the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup and the 2013 SRT Viper. Chrysler will charge a subscription fee, and it will team up with Sprint to control which third-party apps can run on the infotainment platform.

“Sprint has broken out of the industry norm and re-invented the enablement model for in-vehicle connectivity,” says Matt Carter, president of wholesale and emerging solutions at Sprint. “We are expanding the wireless core competency to include integration of the complex components and partner ecosystem needed to harness the full power of wireless technology inside the vehicle.”

Ford launched ROXIMITY, a real-time, location-aware alert service that lets users know of surrounding deals and specials. ROXIMITY enables registered users to input individual preferences and interests.

Then, as users drive, walk or bike past a restaurant or store that might have a deal or special they would find appealing, a push notification is sent to their phone informing them of what they are near. The service is already available via app for iOS devices and is compatible with SYNC AppLink.

HARMAN acquired Interchain Solution, a technology product company based in Bangalore, India, that specializes in developing telematics, fleet management, Android-based in-vehicle infotainment, and location-based solutions.

The acquisition will expand HARMAN’s design and engineering footprint in India and will augment the Company’s automotive infotainment and telematics offerings. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and it is expected to close in late August.

Tweddle Group released an update to its Tweddle Connect platform, which allows tier 1 suppliers and head unit developers to securely update software on vehicle components over the air.

With the update in place, when Tweddle launches a new feature, like its recent updated speech API, OEMs can easily discover, install and update that feature over the air without the need for a USB flash drive.

The API supports most in-market head unit operating systems and application frameworks, making it easier to maintain multiple in-vehicle configurations from a single platform and with the flexibility to meet each OEM's needs.

Audi announced that its digital rear-view mirror will debut in the Audi R8 e-tron at the end of 2012, a first for consumer vehicles. The digital mirror works via AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology that uses a lens with a diameter of just a few millimeters and covers a much larger field of vision than a conventional rear-view mirror.

A color monitor mounted in place of a conventional rear-view mirror displays the digital image data from the camera. The technology is useful in vehicles like the e-tron with no rear window.

BMW announced that BMW vehicles equipped with BMW Apps and MINI vehicles with MINI Connected will now be fully integrated with the Stitcher SmartRadio app. Stitcher SmartRadio streams news, entertainment, sports and talk radio over the internet.

BMW and MINI drivers will be able to fashion a personal talk radio station. The one requirement is that drivers have the Stitcher SmartRadio App on their iPhones.

Alongside its ROXIMITY announcement, Ford also divulged an interesting set of preliminary data, which suggest that interest in advanced driver assistance systems is growing among consumer drivers.

Of the more than 155,000 online shoppers who built and priced the 2013 Ford Fusion on a recent test site, nearly 25 percent opted for the Driver Assist package that includes Ford’s most advanced technology such as Blind Spot Information System, Lane-Keeping Aid, automatic high beams and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Backup cameras and MyFord Touch drew the most interest with online shoppers.

“Even if it was just out of curiosity, we were surprised to see how many in our survey built out a Fusion online with the Driver Assist package,” says Samantha Hoyt, Ford Fusion Marketing manager. “Technology traditionally hasn’t been a big driver for consideration with midsize intenders, but this could be changing as we increase the affordability of these features.”

For more on the ADAS space, see Special report: Tlematics and V2V/V2X technologies.

For all the latest trends in insurance telematics, check out Insurance Telematics USA 2012 on September 5-6 in Chicago and Telematics Munich 2012 on October 29-30.

For exclusive insurance telematics business analysis and insight, read TU’s Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics report.


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