Ford Adds Android Auto and CarPlay

Ford was until now one of the very few big global automakers to have resisted to the strong appeal of Android Auto and CarPlay. The company had been pushing so far its SYNC system that was initially launched in 2007 and is nowadays embedded in more than 15 million vehicles.

But yesterday the company announced the upcoming availability of CarPlay and Android Auto In North America. The U.S. car maker will make Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available on all 2017 vehicles equipped with SYNC 3, starting with the new Ford Escape.

Owners of 2016 vehicles equipped with SYNC 3 will have an opportunity to upgrade later in the year.

Watch the video from Ford below:

Toyota to Demo Map Crowdsourcing from Cars at CES

Toyota is developing a high-precision map generation system that will use data from on-board cameras and GPS devices installed in production vehicles. The new system will go on display at CES 2016 in Las Vegas early January.

The system uses camera-equipped production vehicles to gather road images and vehicle positional information. This information is sent to data centers, where it is automatically pieced together, corrected and updated to generate high precision road maps that cover a wide area.

Mitigating errors

While a system relying on cameras and GPS in this manner has a higher probability of error than a system using three-dimensional laser scanners, positional errors can be mitigated using image matching technologies that integrate and correct road image data collected from multiple vehicles, as well as high precision trajectory estimation technologies.

“This restricts the system’s margin error to a maximum of 5 cm on straight roads“ Toyota wrote.

By utilizing production vehicles and existing infrastructure to collect information, this data can be updated in real time and the system can be scaled up at a relatively low cost.

To support the spread of automated driving technologies, Toyota plans to include this system as a core element in automated driving vehicles that will be made available in production vehicles by around 2020.

“While initial use of the system is expected to be limited to expressways, future development goals include expanding functionality to cover ordinary roads and assist in hazard avoidance,“ Toyota indicated.

Our analysis

It is interesting to see Toyota entering the automotive map space. Most recently that was Continental (read here) which demonstrated their interest for this market segment and our discussion with Continental at the ITS World congress in Bordeaux clearly showed they are not afraid to compete with TomTom and HERE.

At this stage it is not clear however if and how Toyota want to partner with map makers.

The Japanese carmaker wrote that “Toyota will also seek to collaborate with mapmakers, with the goal of encouraging the use of high precision map data in services offered by both the public and private sectors.“

We will probably learn more on the CES show floor.

HERE Grows Coverage of Indoor Maps

The acquisition of digital map vendor HERE by a consortium of German car makers could indicate that pedestrian maps are not a focus of HERE any more. Actually it does not seem so.

Based on a recent discussion with HERE even car makers seem interested in indoor maps to provide pedestrian directions out of the car to bring drivers to their final destination on feet.

As an example, Garmin is using HERE’s indoor maps to direct drivers to the nearest parking area when the destination entered is a specific shop in a shopping mall.

GPS Business News caught up with the latest development on that front with Joseph Leigh, Head of “Venue Maps“ at HERE.

GPS Business News: How many indoor location maps are you offering nowadays?

Joseph Leigh: We have mapped 90,000 buildings at 13,000 venues, in 86 countries. The total footprint is 1.1 billion sqm.

GPS BN: What is the regional segmentation?

JL: Roughly 50% of our venue maps are in North America and 35% are in Europe. The rest are spread around the world, across 86 countries.

GPS BN: What is the vertical segmentation, meaning per type of venue?

JL: Roughly 70% of our venue maps are retail specific. We also have mapped over: 2,000 train stations, 1,900 universities, 350 airports (including the world’s largest airports), 300 museums, 170 zoos, 130 amusement parks, 100 hospitals, and 30 casinos (mainly in Las Vegas).

GPS BN: How are you creating and updating Indoor maps?

JL: The mapping and updating process is a lot more complex than with outdoor maps. It is based on a mixture of source information including architect diagrams, the latest commercial lease plans and ground truth information collected on-site. We are also not just talking about X (longitude) and Y (latitude), but Z (which is the different floors that might exist in a venue).

GPS BN: Who are your customers for these maps?

JL: Customers include Garmin (for ‘last mile’ car and pedestrian navigation), BING Maps, Qualcomm, ESRI, Amadeus (the travel company) and several other industry players. We’re also seeing growing interest from airlines, rail operators, universities and even hospitals.

Joseph Leigh was also recently a speaker at the Where Camp conference in Berlin. Watch below his full presentation:

Spireon Targets Used Car Dealers with Connected Device

Last week U.S. based, car tracking vendor Spireon launched a new product called Kahu that is offered to consumers exclusively from used car dealers.

A significant part of Spireon activity is offering Buy Here Pay Here (BHPH) car dealers their Goldstar GPS service that allows vendors to track vehicles and repossess them if credit is not paid.

Now the company wants to offer connected services to the end users (drivers). With Kahu, car dealers partner with Spireon for a one-time install of the GPS tracking device to use for their collateral and inventory management, and once the car is purchased the dealers can add-on the Kahu mobile app service for the car buyer, connecting them to the already-installed GPS tracking device. The GPS tracking solution cost is more than covered once the Kahu service add-on is sold.

In addition to a new revenue stream in selling Kahu as an add-on service, it allows car dealers to deliver a more modern car buying and owning experience for their customers.

“With over 2.5 million connected vehicles on the road today, Spireon offers the broadest open Connected Vehicle service available today,â€? said Shawn Hansen, Spireon’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Kahu is the first aftermarket connected vehicle service available exclusively from car dealers. The thousands of car dealers that use GoldStar GPS for collateral and lot management can easily add Kahu to increase profits, as well as help any car buyer connect their car to the Internet.â€?

For drivers Kahu provides:

– 24/7 Vehicle Location — The Kahu service is always-on, providing quick access to vehicle location through the mobile app so that you know where your car and family is at all times.

– Theft Recovery — Kahu helps immediately locate your vehicle in the event that it is stolen and can even alert local police authorities. With this feature the average recovery time of a stolen vehicle is 26 minutes.

– Smart Alerts — Kahu provides notifications for several driving features, including a geofencing feature, allowing users to enter a location, indicate a geographic boundary around it and then receive an alert if the car crosses that boundary. Alerts can also be set for specific speed limits or issues such as low battery.

– Insurance Discounts — Users can save up to 25% on insurance premiums that offer discounts for cars with theft recovery devices installed.

Invensense Licenses Inertial Navigation Tech to Huawei

InvenSense, the worldwide provider of MEMS sensors, today announced that their Invensense Positioning Library (IPL) software sensor-assisted positioning technology has been licensed by Huawei for incorporation into the Kirin 950 mobile application processor platforms.

The recently launched Huawei Mate 8 smartphone is the first model to incorporate the the Kirin 950 and IPL technology.

The combination of sensor positioning with GNSS enhances navigation user experience by eliminating “GPS Signal Lostâ€? warnings and unnecessary re-routings in map applications due to GNSS multipath errors.

IPL uses algorithms that take sensor data from the mobile device gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer and barometric pressure sensors to generate an inertial navigation system (INS) that tracks the position change of a vehicle or pedestrian. IPL then combines the INS with GNSS to provide always-available and more accurate location data when GNSS is inaccurate or unavailable.

Audi, BMW & Daimler Completed HERE Acquisition

AUDI AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG concluded the acquisition of HERE from Nokia on 4 December, 2015 after receiving approvals from antitrust authorities. Each company owns one third of the new entity, but they are open to welcome additional investors.

The car makers said that “a new governance structure, safeguarded by a supervisory board that will consist of representatives of the new owners and independent, recognized industry figures. AUDI AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG do not acquire joint control of HERE and there is a clear separation between their roles as customers, suppliers and investors. In addition, HERE will remain open to all customers, and be open to other investors who would create an even broader shareholder structure.“

On the operational level the car companies see an immediate opportunity in providing anonymous probes data from their connected cars. “In that context the currently more than 2 million connected vehicles from AUDI AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG which are capable of collecting advanced high quality location based data already today offer enormous potential to accelerate the development of HERE’s location platform,“ they wrote in their joint press release.

Parking: the Next Frontier of Connected Car Services

In 2006, UCLA Professor of Urban Planning Donald Shoup compiled the results of sixteen surveys carried out between 1927 and 2001 on the time spent looking for a parking space. He reported that the average time spent looking for on-street parking was approximately eight minutes — a figure that has remained relatively unchanged since the 1930s.

This research also demonstrated that, on average, one vehicle in three in traffic is actually searching for somewhere to park. This figure has been confirmed more recently by a study from the San Francisco City Council which concluded that an estimated one third of weekday traffic was due to drivers looking for a parking space.

While solving the problem of road congestion via accurate traffic information has been looked at for decades – the RDS TMC protocol was invented in 1988 – and has already reached a good level of sophistication and accuracy, solving the parking problem via connected services is quite a recent topic and is still very much a work in progress.

As a matter of facts, most of pure players in this field have been founded quite recently: as an exemple, JustPark in 2006, Parkopedia, ParkMe, Worldsensing and Anagog in 2009, Parknav in 2011. The only companies to have emerged earlier are the parking payment companies, PayByPhone and Parkmobile in 2000, Pango in 2005.

On-street and Off-street

Parking essentially divides in two markets with two very different problems to solve: off-street and on-street.

Connected services taking care of off-street parking are now quite advanced. In the three steps of information, booking and payment, the first is largely available (even if real-time data remains partial), but booking and advanced payment are still work in progress. Very few cars on the road today – or navigation apps – are able to find, book and pay seamlessly for a parking space in a garage.

The on-street parking problem is by nature more difficult to solve because detecting free parking bays in real-time, at scale is complex and requires many sources of information. There are very different approaches to create this data as we will see below.

Leveraging Traffic probe data for Parking

One is to make sense of the existing probe data currently used for real-time traffic. For example, Garmin is using this data to calculate the inflow and outflow of cars for each road segment in large cities and estimate availabilities (read here). The company has partnered with Parkopedia to include off-street parking information in their data model.

The GPS company launched this service in their mobile app during the third quarter in 6 German cities and is now adding cities in more countries: London, Amsterdam, Vienna and a few others coming in the United States.


Ford Enables Apple Siri Eyes-Free for 5M MyTouch-Equipped Cars

Ford announced today the release of a software update to more than 5 million SYNC-equipped vehicle owners adding hands-free access to iPhone features via Siri Eyes-Free.

Siri Eyes-Free allows drivers to activate Siri with a long press of the voice recognition button on the steering wheel. The following features can be accessed:

– Making phone calls to contacts in their address book

– Looking up phone numbers for restaurants or other points of interest

– Setting a reminder or alarm

– Asking about the weather

– Select and play music

– Audibly send and receive text messages

– Getting directions through Apple Maps

The new software update is available for vehicles equipped with the second generation of SYNC, known as MyFord Touch in North America, ranging from model years 2011 to 2016.

See a short demo below:

Indoor Map & Location Tech Powering COP21 Climate Conference

Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, Cardiweb, a mobile solution provider, Pole Star (indoor location tech), and Visioglobe, (indoor maps), are delivering the official mobile application of the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21), held in Le Bourget (France) from 30 November to 11 December, 2015.

The mobile solution will improve the experience of the 40,000 daily visitors on the 200,000 sqm site of Le Bourget.

The App enables attendees to access the official agenda, bookmark favorites, follow Twitter feeds and look for practical information but it also provides the best possible routes to, from and within Le Bourget site, by any transportation mode and based on areas of interest (exhibitors, conferences, demos, etc.)

Furthermore, a second application, called Meet-Me, allows delegates to share their real time position with pre-selected contacts thus optimizing networking during the conference.

Navmii: Deals with Carmakers Expected in 2016 (Podcast)

Last week at the Where Camp conference in Berlin, GPS Business News spoke with Zoe Laycock the new Chief Marketing Officer at mobile navigation provider Navmii.

Navmii was born in 2009 and was one of the first companies in 2010 to bring turn-by-turn GPS navigation as a free service on the app stores using map data from Openstreetmap.

Nowadays their business model has largerly evolved from pure B2C (freemium, value added services and advertising) into B2B or B2B2C developing driver behaviour data and other solutions for insurance companies and car makers.

Zoe Laycock is one of the speakers at the ConnecteDriver conference taking place in Brussels on January 27-28, 2016

Listen to Zoe Laycock in the podcast below: