Open platform for connected car gives OEMs more influence

March 09, 2016 // By CHRISTOPH HAMMERSCHMIDT
Congestion ahead
Inrix, Inc., a provider of real-time data services around the connected car, has taken over software provider OpenCar, Inc. The move brings OpenCar’s software platform under Inrix’ control, enabling the company to create an ecosystem of apps and services around its real-time data services and thus offer carmakers an alternative in the competition against Google, Apple and the like.

Known to the public for its traffic data in the first place, Inrix has expanded its services to data services that are both location-based and relevant for car drivers. Examples are parking space occupancy, fuel pricing, or intermodal routing – all in real-time. OpenCar, backed for the last five years by a strategic partnership with Mazda Motor Corp, and like Inrix based in the area of Seattle, offers a programming environment for developers of apps targeting online services to the connected car that includes an application framework and an SDK.

 

From the perspective of automotive OEMs, OpenCar’s platform has a decisive advantage over competing technologies like Google’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: It does not extradite the carmaker to the owner of the respective digital ecosystem. Instead, it allows carmakers to customise the services to their own ideas and requirements. Plus, even more important, it leaves sensitive data to and from the car under the control of the respective carmaker – a feature the European carmakers cannot overestimated, given their collective competition to the emerging competitors out of the digital world. This feature allows OEMs to roll out brand-, model- and region-specific services and to customise the user interface according to their needs. In addition, the automaker remains in command in questions as to where to store and how to use these data.

 

Despite the fact that the OEM remains the owner of the data, OpenCar’s cloud-based, scalable platform enables programmers to develop apps that can be deployed across different makes and models. Irrespective of the capability to be deployed across multiple brands, the respective OEM can set its own rules regarding HMI and user experience. What’s more, the carmaker keeps control over the in-car apps lifecycle, explains Andreas Hecht, General Manager und Executive Vice President Automotive for INRIX. The functionality enables carmakers to validate the services, apply model and regional specific specifications and even perform over-the-air updates,