The connected car sneaks into the mobile industry’s biggest trade show and asserts itself as a major theme. Andrew Tolve reports.
In this week’s Brief: Ford, Mobile World Congress 2014, International Consumer Electronics Show, The Connected City, GSMA, TomTom, Car Connectivity Consortium, MirrorLink Developer Fast Track, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, ALK Technologies, Rohde & Schwarz, Ficosa, Oberthur Technologies and Volvo Car Group.
It wasn’t quite Romeo sneaking into the House of Capulet, but a major car OEM launching a car at the world’s largest mobile trade show took some courage nonetheless. Ford was up to the challenge last week as it navigated its all-new Ford Focus 2015 through the clutter of smartphones, tablets, earpieces and eyepieces at the Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC) and planted it front and center on the exhibition floor.
In keeping with the show’s connected mobility theme, the new Focus features SYNC 2 and AppLink functionality to pair with smartphones, and offers some advanced driver assistance features like a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), automated parking and an Active City Stop feature that helps avoid imminent collisions with pedestrians, bikers and cars in urban environments.
"It is always very special and exciting to launch a new vehicle,” said David Girling, Ford business head in EMEA. “To do so at MWC demonstrates the increasing convergence of technology and personal mobility.”
The connected car was busy in other quadrants of the exhibition hall in Barcelona as well, so much so that it called to mind this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where pundits joked that the “C” stood for “Car.”
(For our coverage of this year’s CES, see Weekly Brief: CES 2014 wrap-up, CES 2014: Ford, Audi and NHTSA and CES 2014: More connected future from the car makers.)
One of MWC’s most popular attractions, The Connected City from show host GSMA, invited viewers into a realistic city environment to experience how cutting-edge mobile products and services are becoming increasingly interconnected. The Connected City dedicated a whole showcase to the connected car and augmented reality in vehicle dashboards.
Nearby, TomTom displayed a new tablet called TomTom Bridge, which allows businesses to integrate their own applications with TomTom navigation technology, then run the resulting solutions on a rugged, industrial design tablet built for the road. TomTom says TomTom Bridge helps fleets better achieve their efficiency goals and is best suited for taxi companies, rental firms and logistics. A future, more robust version will include TomTom WEBFLEET.
The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) launched the MirrorLink Developer Fast Track to make it easier for developers to achieve MirrorLink-certification for their apps. The consortium will lend direct technical support, external marketing and promotion of apps among CCC members, and may even go so far as to reduce the cost of lab tests. At the show, the CCC displayed the first factory-installed, MirrorLink-enabled infotainment systems for the mass market from Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota.
Navigation software specialist ALK Technologies showed off innovations to its CoPilot mobile GPS navigation app platform, many designed to make future CoPilot apps more adaptive, intuitive and integrated into a driver’s daily routine. The innovations include CommuteMe, which learns a driver’s preferred route to and from work and then makes alterations based on the latest traffic, and ActiveRoutes, which uses actual road speed data and time of day to accurately predict the fastest route.
On the emergency response front, MWC attendees could view a new eCall test solution from Rohde & Schwarz, which allows OEMs and automotive suppliers to verify if their existing in-vehicle system modems can successfully initiate an emergency call, transmit the correct minimum set of data (MSD) and establish a voice connection with a public safety answering point (PSAP).
Similarly, MWC attendees could check out an emergency response call solution for the Russian market. Automotive supplier Ficosa has partnered with digital security company Oberthur Technologies on the solution and says it will be ready in January 2015, when ERA GLONASS (GLONASS being Russia’s GPS system) is set to go live.
Finally, what if the next generation of direct delivery is not to one’s home but rather to one’s car? It may sound a bit loony, but, at MWC, the Volvo Car Group demoed a new “Roam Delivery” service that allows consumers to have their shopping delivered straight to their cars. The best part is that the consumer doesn’t have to be at the car to receive the delivery, meaning that people who are at work and sick of missing deliveries to their homes can simply send a delivery man to their car instead.
Here’s how it works: Once the consumer authorizes a delivery, he hands out a temporary digital key to his car and can track when the car is opened and then locked again. Once the drop-off is completed, the digital key ceases to exist. The system is based on the functionality of the telematics app Volvo On Call, which provides remote access to Volvo vehicles.
“By turning the car into a pickup and drop-off zone through using digital keys, we solved a lot of problems since it’s now possible to deliver the goods to persons and not to places,” says Klas Bendrik, CIO at Volvo Car Group.
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 TU contributor.
For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, 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, and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013, The Automotive HMI Report 2013, Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.