Connected Car Platform Mojio Aims for 50K API-enabled Devices This Year

Mark Boyd
May. 28 2014, 01:14PM EDT

In one of the most exciting API product announcements from Day One of APIcon, connected car platform Mojio presented details of their upcoming cellular device for vehicle analytics and talked through the potential of their API offering.

While still very much in beta mode (engineers at Mojio’s headquarters in Vancouver were updating API sandbox glitches during the APIcon workshop presentation), the potential of Mojio was captivating an audience of developers fascinated by the potential of the connected car and Internet of Things.

Building on research and intellectual property generated by the company’s initial forays into the electrical car market, Mojio has ended up creating a hardware cellular device that plugs into a vehicle’s diagnostics port. This device — expected to be available in June for around $US149 — will send a stream of data on trip behavior and vehicle analytics to the Mojio platform. From there, developers can access the API to create third party apps that draw on the data.

The end result would be Mojio device customers downloading an app, logging in their Mojio credentials and allowing the app to access their car data for whatever app functionality the developer has created.

Use Cases

The potential is huge. Narayan Sainaney, Co-Founder and CTO at Mojio reeled off use cases that will become possible once the device is being sold on Amazon, GetItNow and via mobile phone resellers:

  • “Last mile shopping delivery could be solved. Imagine if you do your shopping and a delivery truck goes through the parking lot and via Mojio you unlock your car boot so deliveries can drop your packages direct to your car,” Sainaney says.
  • “The University of Boston has a program called Streetbumps, and developers in other cities are working on the ability for Mojio to identify when a truck passes over a pothole, and sending that data to the city authority so that there can be efficiencies in road asset maintenance costs.
  • “You could create realtime weather maps, for example, based off windscreen wiper usage.
  • “Imagine data that could be collected from Mojio that could be used as evidence to provide you with better insurance quotes.
  • “Or vehicle data that could identify repair problems and send to local mechanics so you can receive potential repair quotes within 5 miles of where your car is having problems.

“There are a lot of niches out there: real estate, truck delivery, insurance, travel expenses. We are here to support you and trying to help you make it very easy to develop against.”

Getting Started

The API is actively being worked on by the Mojio engineering team. “The API has been changing on a monthly basis, based on developer feedback,” confirms Sainaney. “We are moving to OAuth standards for the platform. We have a sandbox environment.”

To get started, developers create an account and outline the app idea that will be created. This triggers an app id and secret key, which allows access to the Mojio API.

Mojio is not planning to manage an app store as part of its ecosystem platform - the idea is that developers will use Google Play and iTunes App Store to commercialize their app products that work with Mojio.

“We will put marketing dollars around showcasing your apps,” Sainaney says. “You publish your apps in the Google and Apple Store. We are focused predominantly on those two platforms for now. A lot of what we do is web apps as well.”

The API documentation is presented in Swagger: we are trying to play around with interactive documentation.

Robb Lovell, Director of Development at Mojio shares the API development approach: “We are trying to have it so if you are used to REST APIs, there are no surprises. Every REST endpoint is a resource. We only use the four verbs. We are trying to use strict REST principles. There is even an endpoint ‘schema’ which will return all endpoints in the API.

“On our roadmap, the idea is to make queries to be MongoDB like in structure for query structure (that is, query by example).”

The API will also let developers store store data specific to their application, that will not be shared with other developers on the platform.

Data collection

Sainaney points to the OBD PIDs to show what data may be collected via the Mojio from a vehicle’s diagnostic port. OBD PIDs — on-board diagnostics Parameter IDs — are agreed diagnostic standards amongst vehicle manufacturers that identify vehicle metrics. Via the Mojio cellular hardware device being plugged into a car’s diagnostic port, the platform will be collecting as much of this data as possible. This may vary depending on the car manufacturer, so to help explain the data potential, Mojio have created ‘periodic tables’:

Hardware Rollout

Mojio expects 50,000 of their devices to have been sold by the end of this year.

Sainaney explains the data flow from the device to the platform:

“Your developer app is speaking with our platform and not directly with the cellular device. This is because it is extremely hard to scale the platform if one layer of the platform is user-dependent, for example, if bluetooth is not turned on certain data might not be being sent. The platform acts as a relay. So we can scale quite well as a result of that. The other reason requests go through our platform is there is some threshold management to ensure we don’t disable the users vehicle.”

Developer Reaction

Developers at the Mojio workshop presentation were excited by the potential:

“We are interested in IoT and see a huge potential in all these devices that are measuring data. What’s interesting is where you can figure out what the opportunities are to create innovative applications,” said developers Gabi Zuniga and Ethan Fan.

“We had a basic idea for an application already, but this workshop has raised lots of other ideas.”

Developers can begin using the sandbox API with sample trip data in a vehicle simulator ahead of the device release.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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