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The app store of the future may be in your car

Last week at the NASSCOM India Leadership Summit, Ford Motor Comp. (F), announced its promised "open source" Applications development bed, dubbed OpenXC.  The new test bed is an extension to the API groundwork that Ford laid last year, in working with universities to develop novel SYNC-compatible apps.

Ford -- who arguably has the most mature infotainment solution in the industry -- is using an Arduino hobbyist board -- an inexpensive microcontroller with strong I/O capabilities -- to grab GPS coordinates, vehicle speed, and other sensor information from the vehicle.  Developers can then send this information to their apps, in order to create novel apps -- many of which could be tailored to a local crowd.

Ford engineers demoed one such app, which used GPS information combined with a calendar app to perform a variety of connected tasks.  The app allowed the driver to share their location with trusted individuals.  It also allowed them to have the app auto-generate emails or text messages when it saw that they were going to be late to a meeting, based on their current position.  And the app could even send messages to a driver's family after a road trip -- a particularly pertinent local concern in India, given the elevated risk to drivers.

Ford's new OpenX development platform uses an Arduino board for signal processing.
[Image Source:]

OpenXC was created with the help of a rapid prototyping company, New York City's Bug Labs.  The platform is currently in a beta stage, with select partners like universities such as the University of Michigan, MIT and Stanford, as well as initial developer participants, including Weather Underground in the U.S. and HCL Technologies in India working as guinea pigs to the new platform.

Ford envisions a world in which, "Developers can... create apps for the car in a manner similar to how they would for a smartphone."

Possible applications it mentioned included medical monitoring, a potentially life-saving innovation for patients with chronic conditions, or apps to help relieve traffic congestion via connected smart-routing.  Ford has been pushing do-it-yourself invention in the automotive space, co-sponsoring innovation spaces in various regions.  These places, like TechShop, give budding inventors the tools and training they need to become future entrepreneurs.

Of global automakers, Ford has fielded some of the most ambitious and futurist designs.  Its new Fusion Hybrid wowed, getting almost the gas mileage of Toyota Motor Comp.'s (TYO:7203) best-selling Prius, despite a much larger and more comfortable frame.

Source: Ford

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RE: American ingenuity at work
By Amedean on 2/21/2012 3:13:02 PM , Rating: 2
WHY is there a strong correlation of people who are negative towards GM and those who despise Obama.

Psychology my friends and a little process called confirmation bias. Don't waist time to try to convince or rationalize with these people, they think emotionally.....

RE: American ingenuity at work
By Reclaimer77 on 2/21/2012 3:38:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not being negative, just pointing out the facts. The facts speak for themselves. Not being emotional or despising anyone. Confirmation bias doesn't apply here. There IS no bias.

RE: American ingenuity at work
By Amedean on 2/21/2012 4:00:43 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have distanced yourself from previous negative posts about GM.

Aside from this, I can understand negativity about what we had to do as tax payers to save GM. What I cannot understand is this atmosphere of dismissing GM's newest innovations and even encouraging buying foreign vehicles in the name of political resentment over bailouts. Those same people continue to do their business as account holders for subsidized big banks but make little issue of this.

GM and Ford have made leaps and bounds in innovation with relatively short time and I applaud both companies.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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