The telematics industry unveils its best and brightest innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show
In this week’s Brief: Ford, General Motors, Garmin, Delphi Automotive, Verizon Wireless, Subaru, HARMAN, Ford, Chrysler, Porsche, Acura, Honda, TomTom, Telenav, Chevrolet, Toyota, Clear Channel, Ceva, and iOnRoad
At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an array of companies made big releases on the electronics and technology front. Indeed, “big” was a recurring theme at this year’s event, as Panasonic unveiled the first 20-inch-wide tablet, Samsung introduced the first 85-inch flat screen TV, and Chinese manufacturer Huawei released the first 6.1-inch “phablet” — that’s part phone, part tablet, in case you were wondering.
The telematics industry saw its fair share of blockbuster announcements as well, first and foremost on the open developer front.
Ford launched an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with the vehicle and create apps that will enhance the driving experience. The Ford Developer Program opens the doors to the SYNC connectivity system and the AppLink application programming interface.
App developers who want to enable their creations for AppLink can now register at http://developer.ford.com  to download the AppLink SDK, which contains code libraries and documentation for the APIs that enable two-way communication between mobile apps and the vehicle including voice commands from the driver.
“The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period,” Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development, said at CES. “Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers.”
Similarly, General Motors announced a new flexible application framework that lets drivers add apps and features to their vehicles after the initial purchase, allowing vehicle infotainment systems to improve over time. The framework enables a new set of vehicle APIs for developers so that they can interact with and build upon the infotainment systems in GM vehicles.
GM will offer developers an SDK through an online portal at http://developer.gm.com/  and will allow developers to work with GM in a secure and controlled manner to design, test and deliver the most relevant, customizable and seamlessly integrated automotive apps.
Garmin introduced its much-anticipated infotainment system, the “K2 platform”. K2 is a fully customizable and scalable solution that combines digital displays, voice control, infrared buttons, and smartphone integration to provide drivers access to everything from navigation to vehicle diagnostics, office features, communications, music and radio to real-time information from the Web.
The platform includes a glass cockpit with advanced voice control and 3D navigation and location services.
Delphi Automotive released “Vehicle Diagnostics,” a cloud-based automotive device that provides a car-to-cloud and cloud-to-car connectivity service. Drivers can mimic their key fob functions to control their car, track, locate, access, secure and monitor their vehicles anywhere at any time with a smartphone or browser.
The first-in-its-class device works in most vehicles sold in the U.S. from 1996 onward. The Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi will be available online and in Verizon Wireless stores in the coming weeks.
Subaru introduced “STARLINK,” its new in-car connectivity brand. The brand includes Aha by HARMAN integration that allows drivers to access tens of thousands of stations of Web-based content, from radio stations to podcasts to weather sites and social media feeds.
The EyeSight driver-assist system integrates adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, and vehicle lane departure and sway warning. The system will debut on the 2014 Forester.
Joining Subaru on its Aha by HARMAN kick were Ford, Chrysler, Porsche, Acura, and Honda, all of which publicly announced their integration of Aha’s service at CES 2013. The Aha service uses the Harman Cloud Platform to safely enable Web-based entertainment and information in vehicles in a radio-like format familiar to drivers.
By the end of 2013, Aha will be installed into vehicles by more than 10 auto manufacturers which in total represent more than 50 percent of all cars sold in the USA/Canada and up to 30 percent in Europe.
TomTom partnered up with Telenav to deliver improved real-time traffic content to Telenav's mobile navigation customers, including those using the popular Scout personalized GPS navigation application on iPhone, Android and Windows devices.
TomTom's HD Traffic services will deliver enhanced congestion, incident and estimated time of arrival data, resulting in improved traffic-based routing.
Chrysler upgraded its Uconnect infotainment system with the addition of dealer-activated navigation, which allows Chrysler Group dealers to activate navigation functions in vehicles equipped with certain Uconnect systems, and those navigation functions come with the same map data (POIs, lane guidance, speed-limit info, etc.) as pre-ordered systems.
Uconnect now also boasts voice recognition technology courtesy of Nuance, whose automotive-grade voice platform harnesses the best of natural language understanding voice technology.
Chevrolet beefed up MyLink with three new app features: TuneIn, BringGo and Siri. TuneIn is a streaming service of more than 70,000 radio stations. Drivers with an iPhone running iOS6 will use the steering wheel voice activation button to begin and end sessions with Siri in its Eyes Free mode.
BringGo is an embedded smartphone app that will add full-function navigation and traffic updates, along with other points of interests, local search, and emergency information.
Toyota added real-time traffic and weather information to the dashboard of new model vehicles by integrating Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network. The three-year agreement starts to take effect with 2014 Toyota and Lexus models.
Total Traffic Network will offer features such as Doppler radar and real-time weather forecasts from The Weather Channel, plus of course TTN’s signature real-time traffic updates.
CEVA partnered with iOnRoad to release a new ADAS platform, the CEVA-MM3101 . Forgiving the platform its lackluster name, the CEVA-MM3101 delivers some impressive imaging and vision features for camera-enabled devices.
The platform is specifically designed to perform complex, real-time signal processing tasks related to imaging and vision and is fully programmable, enabling it to support future driving assistance functionalities and algorithms via software upgrades.
For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry Insight: Telematics and Apps 
For all the latest information and trends in V2X and driver safety, visit V2X for Auto Safety and Mobility Europe 2013  on February 20-21 in Frankfurt.
Coming up in 2013: V2X for Auto Safety and Mobility Europe 2013  on February 19-20 in Frankfurt, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2013  on March 19-20 in Amsterdam, Insurance Telematics Europe 2013  on May 8-9 in London and Telematics India and South Asia 2013  on June 5-7 in India.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report , Human Machine Interface Technologies  and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics .