Automobile: The Next Major Technology Platform - Part I - Connected Vehicle Developer Programs and Standards Groups

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Jun. 19 2013, 08:00AM EDT

This is the first post of a three-part series featuring some of the exciting news and developments in the connected-car industry. Please be sure to check out Part two and Part three.

The "Car as a Platform" wars have been heating up for some time now and ProgrammableWeb has published several posts on the topic, including: "Car as a Platform Wars: GM Joins Ford" by Adam DuVander, "Ford Launches Program That Provides Developers Ability to Create Vehicle-Controlled, Voice-Activated Smartphone Apps" by Janet Wagner, and "Have You Driven a Ford API Lately? Round Up on the Connected Car" by Greg Bates. At the time of this writing, there are 146 APIs listed in the Transportation category of the ProgrammableWeb API Directory. A few of the notable APIs related to in-car connected platforms include Ford, General Motors and OpenXC. This first post of the three-part series includes information about recently launched in-car platform developer programs and industry standards groups. Ford Developer Program

Image Credit: Ford Developer Program Site

Connected Vehicle Developer Programs

Ford is one of the first major car manufacturers to develop and deploy technology (Ford SYNC) that connects mobile devices to in-car platforms. Ford launched the Ford SYNC Voice-Controlled Communications and Connectivity System back in the fall of 2007 which is co-developed with Microsoft. The first car to feature Ford SYNC was the 2008 Ford Focus. In January 2013, Ford launched the Ford Developer Program which provides developers the ability to integrate the SYNC connectivity system and AppLink API into smartphone applications. In the press release, Hau Thai-Tang, Vice President of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development, says that:

"When we first introduced SYNC in 2007, there was a need for an appropriate way to connect and control cellphones and digital music players in the car due to the massive consumer adoption trend. Offering voice control so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road has proven to be popular with our customers. Now, with an even faster adoption rate of smartphones, there is a need for a renewed focus on voice control for the unique capabilities of these devices, especially for the use of apps."

General Motors has also launched a program for developers and according to a recent Xconomy article, General Motors has opened the brand new GM Developer Portal ahead of the 4G Car Launch. The new GM Developer Portal provides developers access to a set of APIs that expose vehicle related features such as OnStar and RemoteLink services. There are two types of APIs; remote and in-vehicle. In addition to Ford and General Motors, car manufacturer Renault is also launching an initiative in the Car as a Platform arena.

Industry Standards Groups

W3C Automotive and Web Platform Business Group

Earlier this year, the W3C launched the new Automotive and Web Platform Business Group which was created to help the automotive industry adopt web technologies and platforms as well as to address issues such as reduction of driver distractions and driver safety. The group is also currently defining a vehicle data API specification which will provide guidelines for the types of vehicle data that should be accessible using a web API(s).

Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC)

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) was founded back in February 2011 and the focus of the group is to develop global standards for smartphone in-car connectivity. According to the official website, the group currently has 94 members and includes "more than 70% of the world’s automakers and more than 70% of the world’s smartphone makers." The CCC is developing MirrorLink, a technology standard that provides "seamless connectivity between a smartphone and the car infotainment system." Consumers using MirrorLink enabled cars in conjunction with MirrorLink enabled smartphones, can access their smartphones in-vehicle the same way they would a car radio. MirrorLink also incorporates technologies already found in many car models such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. A few months ago, the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) announced that advanced registration was available for the upcoming MirrorLink Developer Portal which will provide developers resources for creating MirrorLink applications. The Portal will offer developer resources such as the MirrorLink API, distraction guidelines, software downloads, a forum and more.

GENIVI Alliance

The GENIVI Alliance is a non-profit organization "committed to driving the broad adoption of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) open-source development platform." To accomplish this goal, the organization offers aligning requirements, certification programs and delivers reference implementations. GENIVI has quite a few projects in development including the Web API Vehicle described by the organization as "a proof of concept that demonstrates an interface to the vehicle accessible from HTML5."

The Next Post

The second post in this three-part series, features the three categories of connected car services; Infotainment, Navigation and Telematics.

Janet Wagner Janet is a data journalist and full stack developer based in Toledo, Ohio. Her focus revolves around APIs, data visualization, machine learning, and data-driven journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @webcodepro and on Google+

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