Connected cars, like smartphones, use apps to provide access to a variety of features and capabilities. Also like smartphones, connected cars support a variety of different platforms for supporting apps. For example, Ford vehicles use the Sync platform and GM vehicles use MyLink.
Automakers are making platforms available to encourage independent developers to create apps. In February, GM sponsored the first “Makers Hustle Harder” Hackathon at the Tampa Hackerspace in Tampa, FL, and PILOT was there with a team focused on developing an app to demonstrate hybrid radio technology. Altogether, over 70 app developers participated in this hackathon resulting in 13 prototype GM vehicle apps.
Team PILOT’s Radio++ App Demo
The PILOT app, dubbed “Radio++” since it demonstrated “Radio plus internet plus interactivity,” is a “hybrid radio” app. It uses the radio station’s audio delivered over the air and internet content delivered over the vehicle’s broadband connection (either built-in to the vehicle or provided by a Bluetooth-paired smartphone).
Some of the other apps developed at the Tampa hackathon included “OTTO,” an Alexa-enabled app that could be used by drivers to check on the status of vehicle systems while they were still in their homes (“Alexa, ask OTTO to see if I need to buy gas on my way to work this morning”), and “Watch Out,” an app that uses the various vehicle sensors to rate how safely the driver is operating the vehicle.
PILOT will continue to explore and develop hybrid radio technology, creating new services and new opportunities for broadcasters and listeners to get the most out of local radio.