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Cross-platform development seen as the main roadblock for $25BN in-vehicle apps prize

Contrary to some reports suggesting Apple's new iPad mini fails to include GPS functionality, the cellular connectivity version of Apple's newly announced iOS device available from 2 November - with smaller 200mm form factor of similar size to console displays in Mercedes Benz, BMW and Ford and other vehicles - will, in fact,  include location awareness.

Apple can boast of their platform being the best supported App ecosystem by numbers of applications available (due to its famed ease of development and viable market) and current overwhelming popularity of its tablet with consumers. Google, meanwhile, with its Android ecosystem that includes the similar sized Nexus 7 tablet, has a much smaller user base in the tablet form factor (in contradt to Smartphones).

As previously reported, the car driver interface looks set to be a battleground between competing platforms but  for Apple the issue of in-car Apps maybe be something sideshow for now. It may wait to see how App developers provide useful alternative to built-in car/driver interfaces.

Perhaps this may only be an issue to refrofit solutions. However, the potential rewards are huge and a common platfrom may be attractive alternative to consumers, and cheaper to develop.


‘Complexities of cross-platform development’ seen as the main roadblock for in-vehicle apps

The divergence of incompatible platforms is seen as the main impediment to growth of the in-Car Apps market, which Telematics Update is predicted to grow to a $25 billion marketplace by 2015.

Previewing its conference Content and Apps for Automotive USA, 4-5 December in San Diego, a Telematics Update online poll of more than 500 automotive and apps executives across North America identified ‘complexities of cross-platform development’ as the main roadblock for in-vehicle apps.

In the past 18 months automakers such as Mercedes Benz, BMW and Ford have been introducing in-car app offerings; however the market has yet to reach its full potential. ‘Complexities of development’ that drew the majority of responses to the main barries for in-vehicle apps, with 41% of the votes.


Your Next Doctor Might Be Your Car

The Apps market may diverge in all sorts of innovative directions, even including to human health.

Cars are fitted with a range of sensors, measuring everything from tyre pressure to brake pad condition - in future it could become the norm that cars sense the healthy of the driver.

The University of Southern California Center for Body Computing specializes in creating innovative solutions for chronic disease management, sports monitoring, mHealth, and gaming and entertainment, and has been working in wireless health since 2005. As reported by Fast Company, USC’s Center for Body Computing has joined up with a project looking at how the car could be used to monitor driver health.

The USC School of Cinematic Arts and BMW have been working on Nigel - a Mini Cooper fitted with 230 sensors that creates a log of everything that happens in the car, letting users see it all via an iPhone and iPad app. A layer of health sensors installed in the car could in future, the project speculates, make an appointment with a driver's doctor, just as a car can it it needed a service. 

The Center for Body Computing is in early discussions with sensor companies. In future, car pollution sensors, heart-rate sensors (maybe integrated into the steering wheel), GPS, and oxygen content sensors could all work together to tell drivers if, say, a certain polluted area of the highway affects their health.

USC isn’t the only institution working on novel uses for car sensors. Ford’s research also involves seats that monitor your heart rate and a suite of wellness connectivity services to assist with diabetes, asthma and allergies, among other things.


Database of Automotive, Education, Health and Smart Cities applications

Referring to the Telematics Update survey on barriers to growth of the in car Apps market, Zach Brand, Senior Product Manager, NPR commented that he agreed with the majority but it could be overcome with dedicated resources and added knowledge. 

With that information gap an issue, and rival platforms seeking to silo their own solutions, GSMA - the association of mobile operators representing 800 of the world’s mobile operators - is compiling a database of mobile products and services around the globe.

The GSMA Connected Living Tracker collates applications in the sectors of  Automotive, Education, Health and Smart Cities, with the aim to include all connected solutions, highlighting the name of the solution, the organisation providing the service, and the country of origin.

The data is sourced from professional consulting companies and from within the GSMA. The GSMA are encouraging all who are engaged in this space to submit their products and services whether trials or commercial launches. Complete this form to submit your service.


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