Garmin to Acquire Delorme, Extends Into Satellite Tracking Devices

GPS maker Garmin today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of DeLorme, a privately-held company that designs and markets consumer-based satellite tracking devices with two-way communication and navigational capabilities. Financial terms of the purchase agreement and acquisition will not be released.

One of the most compelling products in the DeLorme portfolio is its inReach series of two-way satellite communication devices. These GPS-enabled devices allow the user to send and receive satellite text messages or trigger an SOS for emergency help, anywhere in the world.

InReach is using the Iridium satellite network. Suggested retail price for the entry level inReach SE is $299 and the more advanced inReach Explorer is $379, with a choice of annual satellite subscriptions or no-contract Freedom Plans with only a minimum 30-day commitment. Freedom Plans start at $14.95 per month for the safety service and go up to $99.95 per month for the highest service level.

Delorme is also selling paper maps, as well as GIS software and digital base maps to enterprise customers.

Garmin said they will retain most of the associates of DeLorme and will continue operations at its existing location in Yarmouth, Maine.

“This Yarmouth facility will operate primarily as a research and development centre and will continue to develop two-way satellite communication devices and technologies,“ Garmin wrote.

This acquisition extends Garmin reach into a new device category where it already has a lot of customers and a powerful brand: hikers and boaters. While InReach is an interesting product it had so far limited visibility and no distribution outside of the United States. With Garmin marketing machine behind it will certainly open up new possibilities and further integration into new devices.

SIGNUL: When BLE Beacons Provide Personal Geofencing

Bluetooth Low Energy “beacons“ are used in connection with smartphones by shops, transport and many other vetical markets for proximity sensing and micro location. But there could be a more “personal“ use to this low cost technology.

IOT Design Shop, a startup based in Vancouver, Canada, has developed SIGNUL, a bluetooth low energy beacon made to automate personal tasks. SIGNUL creates micro location zones (geofences) that trigger a task upon entering or exiting a place (home, car, office, etc.): launch apps, send messages, open a website, etc…

SIGNUL was initially launched on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo in November 2014 and the beacon ($50 apiece) is now shipping.

SIGNUL also announced today their integration with IFTTT Channel, allowing many more actions to be triggered by entering or exiting a zone defined by a SIGNUL beacon.

Openstreetmap Founder Steve Coast Left TeleNav, to Advise Navmii on Maps

Steve Coast, the founder of mapping community Openstreetmap (OSM), has left TeleNav and just joined Navmii as a strategic board advisor.

Coast served two years and half at TeleNav where he was in charge of Openstreetmap related projects and successfully transitioned Telenav mobile navigation app Scout from a commercial map provider to OSM.

Coast is currently advising several other companies, including big data parking startup Parknav.

At Navmii Steve Coast will “further enhance its B2B mapping products and services,“ the company said.

“Navmii has created enhanced, automotive grade OSM maps using its map enhancement platform and billions of points of mapping data collected from its users. Navmii will offer this enhanced data for license to B2B customers both as pure map data and mapping tile services to power web and mobile solutions.“

In targeting the map data business Navmii is entering a very competitive field under the shadow of three giants: Google, HERE and TomTom.

Renault & CloudMade: Self-Learning Cars for Smoother Driving

Silicon Valley-based CloudMade has been working with Renault for a couple of years and now the two companies are going public with their partnership.

CloudMade had been know some years ago or its technology solutions around Openstreetmap data. But now its core business is in the automotive industry where they develop solutions for connected, self-learning vehicles.

My Driving Partner is a new type of driving aid developed by Renault in collaboration with CloudMade.

The technology is designed to learn the individual driving habits and to follow up with customized advice to promote driving that is smoother and more relaxing. By signalling driver earlier than aids such as ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) or AEBS (Active Emergency Braking System), My Driving Partner offers a personalized way to help the driver control the vehicle in a more optimal manner. The system is currently being evaluated on a fleet of Renault vehicles (ZOE, Clio and Captur) equipped with the R-Link 1 multimedia tablet.

Making sense of car data

The system first records parameters such as acceleration, braking and steering wheel angle as well as environmental information such as traffic and weather, based on these it learns a driver’s habits and keep track of notable occurrences.

My Driving Partner can be used in either “Companionâ€? or “Challengeâ€? mode. In each, the system provides feedback to the driver about his or her driving style. When the driver embarks on a journey that he or she has previously completed, My Driving Partner’s algorithm is able to predict situations to warn of potential risks. In Challenge mode, the system rewards the ‘best’ driver with points for their overall driving style and the smooth handling of various situations and provides a total at the end of the trip.

Accidents happen on regular routes

By learning a driver’s habits and storing dangerous spots along the user’s most frequently used routes, My Driving Partner can warn the driver of a risky situation and provide advice as he or she approaches the potential hazard.

Statistics demonstrate that a large part of accidents happen on regular journeys. According to Renault, in France more than half of all accidents resulting in bodily injury happen on journeys of a distance of less than 20 kilometers.

Invensense: From MEMS to Retail Analytics

MEMS vendor Invensense has made today a surprising move in announcing Coursa Retail, an indoor shopper location analytics and retargeting service for Brick and Mortar retailers.

Coursa Retail integrates into the retailer’s mobile customer application and uses existing motion tracking sensors in shopper smartphones to deliver insights into individual and aggregated shopper behavior in stores by recording and tracking the shopper’s path and dwell time at all points in a retail store.

“Coursa Retail is the first Software as a Service (SaaS) platform from InvenSense focused on indoor location analytics,â€? said Eitan Medina vice president marketing and product management at InvenSense.

“Insights from our platform can be turned into actions and monetized by retailers, enabling them to increase conversion and loyalty by retargeting customers from in-store missed conversions. The data from Coursa Retail can also optimize merchandising, store planning and staffing decisions.â€?

Coursa Retail just requires one bluetooth beacon placed at the entrance of the store (likely to wake up the app in the background) and the rest is operated by the SDK located in the retailer’s app.

Invensense is leveraging their MEMS sensor fusion know-how in various areas. A few months ago the company launched another software platform, Coursasports, to improve location accuracy and reduce battery consumption in smartphone and smartwatch health and fitness apps (read more here).

Ford Introduces FordPass, (Smart) Mobility Platform

Ford has introduced this week FordPass, a platform designed to help members – Ford owners or not – with mobility services.

FordPass, which is launching this spring, allows members to reserve and pay for parking (via Parkopedia and Parkwhiz), access to guides (free online assistance) to help resolve their mobility challenges and member-exclusive perks from a range of affinity partners such as Southwest Airlines, McDonald’s and 7-Eleven.

FordPass also includes the opening of FordHubs, i.e. urban stores, where consumers will be able to explore the company’s “latest innovations,“ learn about its mobility services and experience “exclusive events.“ FordHubs are set to open in New York City, London, Shanghai and San Francisco; the first will start later this year at New York’s Westfield World Trade Center.

FordPass launches this spring in the United States and Canada, followed by other markets including Europe, China and Brazil later this year.

Our analysis

Every car maker is dreaming itself as a smart mobility provider and there are many ways to get there. But FordPass does not seem to bring any breakthrough neither from a concept nor from a services standpoint. This seems very much car centric and the connection between mobility services and an urban car retail experience such as FordHubs seems very tiny.

Let be honest, we are much more impressed by what Daimler is doing with their Moovel platform, connecting various means of transportation in a single app with a unique point of payment.

Watch below the Ford announcement from the Detroit Motor Show:

Cellepathy, Motosmarty & OOCAR Finalists of Auto App Challenge

GPS Business News has announced today the finalists of the Auto App Challenge: Cellepathy (Israel), Motosmarty (Belgium), and OOCAR (France). The three startup companies have been selected by a jury of professionals gathered by GPS Business News.

The finalists will compete to win the Challenge at the ConnecteDriver conference –

www.connectedriver.events – where they will present their solution on January 27th, 2016 in front of 150 business professionals coming from 20 countries and representing the whole ecosystem of the connected car industry.

Cellepathy

Cellepathy develops solutions that collect and interpret smartphone sensor data to enable telematics services without the in-vehicle hardware required today. It’s technology is applicable to many fields including Distracted Driving Crash Prevention, Smartphone-Based UBI, and Turn-by-Turn Navigation.

Motosmarty

Road Vikings is a community of young drivers which goal is to promote good an safe driving in an engaging and rewarding way. Road Vikings connect good drivers and creative businesses who want to offer the community profitable telematics-based services including usage-based insurance, valet services, remote breakdown assistance or car sharing.

OOCAR

OOCAR is a connected car smart data company that helps drivers improve their driving experience, take better car of their car and save time and money along the way with personalized services and tools. At the same time, OOCAR helps service providers to be more competitive by offering them direct access to drivers and real-time car data.

International Jury

The finalists of the challenge have been selected among six criterias (Functionality, Usability, Design, Uniqueness, Commercial potential and Business model) by a jury made of seven experienced professionals in the business of the auto/mobile convergence:

Barbara Belvisi, Co-founder, Hardware Club

Benedict Jochem, Strategic Marketing Manager, Bosch SoftTec

Anders Lykke, Head of Sales, Priori Data

Ludovic Privat, Editor & co-Founder, GPS Business News

Gredy Raffin, Section Editor, Le Journal de l’Automobile

Jean-Marc Van Laethem, Chief Innovation Officer & co-founder, Coyote Systems

Garmin Acquires LiDAR Tech Company

Garmin announced today the acquisition of PulsedLight, Inc., a privately-held company founded in 2012 and designing optical distance measurement technology (LiDAR) located in Bend, Oregon.

PulsedLight’s product, LiDAR-lite, offers up to 40-meter range capability with 1cm resolution and operates at measurement speeds of up to 500 readings per second. It currently sells for around $115 online.

“Optical distance measurement technology fits in nicely with Garmin’s core competencies of location and positioning,” said Garmin CEO Cliff Pemble.

“We are excited to have the support of a technology leader like Garmin. They are able to provide the resources and manufacturing expertise to integrate our technology into incredibly useful new devices that serve a multitude of markets,” added Dennis Corey, president and co-founder of PulsedLight.

Quanergy: Solid-State LiDAR for Driverless Cars under $250

LiDAR – the technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light – was until recently very costly.

Systems used in mapping vans and self-driving vehicles – such as these of Google – were costing from $5,000 to $50,000, therefore limiting the penetration of this technology in common cars and making automated driving very pricy.

LiDAR are indeed a key component of the situational awareness of future driverless cars, creating a live 3D view around a vehicle – up to 150 m distance – detecting, classifying, and tracking objects in the scene.

Now a company is set to transform the LiDAR market in offering a system that costs around $250 in volume sales (100,000 pieces).

Based in Sunnyvale, California, Quanergy was founded in 2012 and is bringing to the market a new technology called solid-state LiDAR. Instead of relying on a spinning, mechanical system, Quanergy uses an integrated circuit capable of gathering a point cloud of one million pixel per second with an accuracy of 5 cm at 100 meters.

Louay Eldada, the CEO of the company spoke yesterday at a press conference in Las Vegas where the company publicly launched S3, their first solid state LiDAR.

He explained there are many advantages to solid state LiDAR, in addition to its much lower cost. One is robustness because with no spinning part inside there is no risk of mechanical failure. Lower power consumption is also an advantage.

The technology is also able to scan a particular area on demand on a micro second request. Louay Eldada pointed out that it offers for example the ability to concentrate the vision on the left and right sides when the car is stopping at an intersection, then switching back the beam to 150 meters in front when the car is driving at full speed on an highway.

Continued…