LAS VEGAS, Jan. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At this year's Consumer Telematics Show (CTS), keynote speaker Frank Hirschenberger presented a powerful solution to one of the most vexing problems facing automakers in the Digital Era: how to help drivers safely maintain, access and upgrade the myriad applications found on smartphones and in-vehicle systems.
As Hirschenberger detailed in his talk, automakers need to migrate apps out of devices and into cloud-based servers where they can develop, deploy, and update apps with ease. (To see a video of Hirschenberger's presentation, click here).
Hirschenberger directs product innovation development at Agero Connected Services, the long-time telematics provider to global automakers. Agero used the annual forum on in-vehicle infotainment as a springboard to unveil its unique AgeroView" cloud delivery platform and DevKit. Just prior to CTS, Agero also announced its strategic partnership with XSe on development of an automotive-quality, connected reference platform for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.
"AgeroView is all about giving automakers greater control over managing change. Auto manufacturers need the ability to easily deploy and update connected content and services, and even the human-machine interface within vehicles, thereby ensuring continual compliance with changing regulations or guidelines,' said Hirschenberger. "By moving apps to the cloud where they can be developed, deployed, and updated with ease, automakers will no longer have to worry about the capabilities of the smartphone or in-vehicle hardware. Any content delivered to any device. THAT is the target.'
The AgeroView platform delivers benefits to all major stakeholders in the automotive chain:
- For vehicle product planners: Freshness of applications and content for the life of the vehicle.
- For engineering: The long-sought flexibility in design as well as commonality across devices.
- For vehicle platform teams: A new way to differentiate their products.
- For automobile dealerships: A channel for more personalized customer interaction through situation-aware messaging.
- For vehicle owners: Satisfaction with their vehicle purchase and spurring greater loyalty to their automobile brand.
Over the past two years, the number of apps being delivered to in-vehicle head units has steadily increased, with the most popular being location-based information and entertainment such as Internet radio. A recent Gartner report found that "47 percent of all U.S. vehicle owners are at least 'likely' to use mobile applications in their vehicle as long as it is safe to do so." (See Gartner report, "U.S. Consumer Vehicle ICT Study: Web-Based Features Continue to Rise," December 13, 2012.)
With demand for in-vehicle apps projected to grow in 2013 and beyond, virtually every automaker is evaluating content that helps differentiate its product in the automotive marketplace. But severe constraints still limit early app deployments, Hirschenberger emphasized.
Development costs to launch an app and change an app are substantial, he said, with little consumer willingness to help defray that cost. And the likelihood is high, given the pace of change in consumer electronics, that an app will require an update beginning the day the vehicle model launches, not to mention at many intervals during the lifetime of the vehicle. Furthermore, an application developed for one in-vehicle infotainment system may not be portable to different screens, different control sets, and different operating systems.
To avoid these limitations, Hirschenberger stated that a suitable content-delivery platform must include these basic characteristics:
- The capability to introduce or update one single application (i.e., new features, new functionality, new content mash-ups, graphical user interface changes) across the entire vehicle line-up. Moreover, it must be able to update incrementally (no complete re-compilation and re-download of application) regardless of the vehicle electronics.
- Automobile manufacturers must be able to easily change the human-machine-interface (HMI) over the lifetime of the vehicle. Dynamic HMI is necessitated by multiple factors; the need to incorporate current best practices in reducing the risk of driver distraction; to facilitate customer personalization; to augment the automaker's brand image, and to adapt to advances in user interface technologies such as speech recognition, haptic and gesture control, and heads-up displays.
- Utilization of a Context Proxy must be open to application developers and capable of adding application level logic.
- In-vehicle applications must be capable of dynamically and intelligently choosing the optimum data pipe with time-variant and service-based logic.
- There can be no direct dependence of application deployment on any particular in-vehicle infotainment operating system.
- Content delivered to the vehicle must be synchronized with the customer's digital life, specifically smartphones, tablets, networked home devices.
By relying on a cloud-based platform, vehicle owners gain a better integrated, more personalized, and more feature-rich menu than what's available today on a smartphone. "Automobile manufacturers must deliver an experience different than what their customers experience with their smartphones," Hirschenberger emphasized. "This will not only ensure a safer interface while driving, but also build greater perceived brand value."
While Agero's immediate focus is on platform development, Hirschenberger acknowledged that the company plans to provide an off-the-shelf set of apps that automobile manufacturers can use as a starting point. Most likely these apps will involve navigation, location-based services, messaging, infotainment, and entertainment.
Agero centers its value proposition to automakers on its ability to serve a full scale of telematics (connected vehicle) needs from "one-stop-shop" to "best-of-breed." The company's success is evidenced by the variety of automakers it serves under private label (brands associated with ultra-luxury, premium, mass market, and alternative fuel vehicle segments).
Agero Connected Services (ACS) is a leading provider of private-labeled, connected vehicle services for the automotive, insurance, and aftermarket industries. Based in the Dallas, Texas area, ACS launched the connected car market over 15 years ago and currently manages systems it developed for 11 global automotive brands. ACS is a division of Medford, Mass.-based Agero, Inc., the leader in roadside assistance, claims management, and emergency services in the automotive and insurance industries. For more information, visit www.agero.com.