In September, Carmesh had the opportunity to present at the SmartDevCon2 conference. This is a developer focused conference which is looking to a future comprised of very many smart devices: the conference focuses on innovative tools and technologies appropriate for this new context. With Carmesh focused on the Connected Car – which will clearly have more intelligence – this conference is very much relevant to the project.
The conference itself was a modest international conference – some of the speakers had travelled quite a distance to get there – with about 100 attendees. Most of the attendees came from the mobile development arena and had varying levels of experience.
We presented our view of the evolution of the Connected Car. In essence, we see a HTML5 based OBU talking to a phone where most of the intelligence lies and this connects to a cloud backend (more on our vision here). We also talked about some particular technologies we think are exciting and hold particular promise in this area.
As the audience was mostly comprised of mobile developers, the auto space was something which was new to them; while there was some interest in our talk, I think it’s fair to say that novel mobile platforms were in more demand. It did, however, give us a good platform to get out in front of developers to promote the Carmesh vision.
We had the opportunity to attend the Automotive Linux Summit in Edinburgh in October 2013. It’s an industry focused event which is tied in to Linuxcon Europe.
The event had about 100 attendees, from a mix of component suppliers, OEMs, Tier 1s and smaller guys working on some specific automotive software aspects.
It was our first time attending this conference, so we had no idea what to expect. Generally, we got the impression that the sector is in the midst of quite a big transition, moving from very bespoke, specialized software and hardware solutions to a much more standardized approach based on Open Source and open standards. While this in itself is very significant, it’s the greater implications of this – an increased rate of innovation – which is both the threat and opportunity that is simultaneously causing discomfort and excitement right now.
The range of topics covered at the Summit is impressive – ranging from software licensing in Open Source to mapping to mobile integration to new virtualization platforms. Any one of these alone could have its own dedicated event.
The highlight of the event yesterday was definitely the very engaging Matt Jones from Jaguar-Land Rover who argued cogently that the sector has the opportunity to greatly increase its rate of innovation. Noting that timelines for introduction of software into cars can be about 39 months and small companies can bring production software out in 18 months or less, highlights the challenges for small companies with new ideas to engage in the automotive space. Also the idea of having rapid software update and distribution cycles should increase innovation and offer a much better experience to the car user overall.
We learnt lots from day 1 and met loads of very interesting people. Let’s hope day 2 will be equally as interesting…
In a previous post, we described how we see the used car market changing as the Connected Car evolves. Here, we focus on the Car Rental sector with particular emphasis on how data collection can impact the sector. (Note that while we focus on the power of the data here, we do view the Connected Car as offering more – see our vision post for details).
The car rental sector is very interesting from a Connected Car point of view from two particular perspectives. Firstly, the Connected Car sector is comprised of quite a few big organizations who can roll out Connected Car technology across their entire fleet quite easily. Secondly, the car rental sector is seeing some disruption with peer-to-peer solutions offering lower cost services – the Connected Car fits neatly into this paradigm shift. Both of these perspectives are examined a little further below.
One of the things that the emerging world of big data will make possible is to know detailed history on everything. This will have profound impacts on selling ‘pre-loved’ items in general and used cars in particular. With the US used car market valued at around $400bn annually, this is worth noting.
Today, the used car market is – naturally – keen to know the history of the car. However, the way in which this is communicated is still quite limited: in some places a log book containing service history is the norm, other more sophisticated variants include carfax, which tracks odometer readings and reported crashes or, for example, the national database in Sweden which makes information on a car’s annual inspection available. While these do capture some key points in the story of the car, obviously having the full story rather than a set of snapshots can give a more comprehensive view.
SmartDeviceLink (SDL) is mobile-auto interaction technology which was originally devised by Ford (as an evolution of Applink) but is currently being developed under the auspices of the GENIVI alliance. This is a very interesting technology in the mobile-auto interaction space and we decided to check it out in Carmesh.
While details relating to the technology itself are somewhat in flux and the subject of the discussions within the GENIVI alliance, the basic ideas are reasonably clear. Essentially, SDL comprises of a set of standardized messages which can enable the car and the mobile to exchange state and control information. For example, it’s possible for the mobile to display specific text or images on the car dashboard, control audio playout on the car’s sound system and receive notifications when buttons on the steering wheel are pressed; in future, it should be possible to send specific Points Of Interest from the phone to the car’s navigation system amongst other things.
One of the applications we’re working on in Carmesh is a Raspberry Pi based data logger. The architecture of the system is that the RPi is connected to the OBD-II interface and provides a simple web-based interface to OBD-II state to any interested clients. In our case, we will write a mobile app which will avail of this.
(This is the first in our series of posts on issues we found in our implementation work).
Short blog post on an issue we found with a library we’re using…
In carmesh, we’re working on accessing some social services on the user’s behalf. One technology we’re using to access Oauth’d services is sanction – it’s a handy python library which takes care of authentication and provides a nice authenticated way to interact with services.
The Connected Car space has seen two big announcements in as many days from the biggest names in the IT sector. On Monday, Apple announced iOS in the Car and yesterday Google confirmed the purchase of Waze. Here, we provide some analysis of what this means for the Connected Car.
The vision for the Connected Car is to bring the Internet into the car, adapting to the specifics of that environment. While the term was coined some time ago, it is often unclear what is meant by the Connected Car: here we outline the Carmesh vision for the Connected Car and some of the issues that arise.
While the automotive sector is very definitely not the main focus at Google IO, there were some announcements there that are of interest to the Connected Car sector. Here, I highlight three specific items that were discussed at the conference.
The Mercedes on display at Google IO