Ford to Host First Automotive App Developer Conference

Ford, alongside the CTIA Super Mobility Week Sept. 8, will host an app developer conference and hackathon, a first for the auto industry.

Ford connected car market

Advancing the connected car market a necessary step, Ford has announced it will host the auto industry’s first app developer conference. Planned for Sept. 8, the event will overlap with the CTIA’s Super Mobility Week in Las Vegas, Sept. 8-11.

While the connected car market has been said to be more opportunity-rich than tablets were at their introduction, Ford is also dangling an appealing carrot: newly released data sets from Los Angeles, the city of driving.

As part of a 12-hour hackathon, developers will have access to more than 200 data sets, and Peter Marx, the chief innovation technology officer of Los Angeles, will discuss the data, offer “unprecedented insight” and share data-based lessons the city has learned regarding collisions, crime, traffic counts, airport traffic and more.

Developers will also be offered some comprehensive schooling on Ford’s AppLink technology, and 50 eligible teams will be invited to compete in a Connected Car-Connected City App Pursuit contest. Ten finalists will show off their apps during the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and a grand prize winner will receive a “prize package” and be part of an on-stage Ford announcement at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show.

“Major technology companies host annual developer conferences, but this is the first time an auto manufacturer has hosted such an event,” John Ellis, the head of Ford’s developer program and its global technologist, said in a July 31 statement.

CTIA CEO and President Meredith Attwell Baker said that combining auto experts and app developers is an example of the “transformative possibilities” that will come with the so-called connected life. Such efforts, she added, will “translate into a better and more technologically advanced driver experience, which ultimately means safer roads, reduced traffic and improved fuel efficiency.”

The Future of Driving

In June, Ford hosted an annual trends conference at which it showed off both features it’s tinkering with and has released. In the latter category, an update for Ford Sync, called 911 Assist, has smartened up to the point that the car can not only automatically place a call to 911 following a crash, but relay to the operator information such as whether the front passenger-side seatbelt was fastened, so the dispatcher can know if two ambulances are necessary.

Another project, currently “purely research,” according to Ford’s CTO of Research and Innovation, uses cameras and recognition software to identify a driver and pull up content relevant to her, such as her music, contacts and email.

There’s not an automaker—or wireless industry player—that today isn’t considering how connectivity, sensors and mobile apps will affect the future driving experience.

In a June report, research firm Analysys Mason advised mobile operators to take note of the unique use case vehicles present. While LTE deployments have typically prioritized dense urban environments, operators wanting to capitalize on in-car data usage “will need to prevent radio link failures, interference, bad coverage and unsuccessful handovers along road,” said the report.

By 2024, the firm expects 48 percent of cars to have embedded connectivity and 48 percent to be able to pair with a smartphone to access its connection.