Hack Your Ride Hopes to Increase Connected Car Opportunities

Hack Your Ride, hosted by connected hardware maker Mojio, is an app challenge running from now until Aug. 10. Competition entrants can create an app using the Mojio platform and APIs from the AT&T Developer Program.

Mojio launched its cellular car device at ProgrammableWeb’s APIcon last year and has since seen a number of apps created for the device’s API platform. The device plugs in to the diagnostics port of an automobile, making any car "smart" by providing a wealth of data that can be utilized to improve the driving experience and monitor vehicle health. This is a platform-oriented hardware model from the get-go, similar to some new startups that are focused on designing everyday smart things, although unusual in the smart hardware sector, where a priority is often selling enough units to reach some sort of feasibility rather than thinking about integration platforms from the beginning.

The competition moves past the usual hackathon model of a weekend-long endurance test fueled by Red Bull and pizza to encourage competitors to come up with a prototype. Instead, organizers are pushing app developers to build something more substantial than a simple fuel-consumption app and suggesting developers focus instead on the new Internet of Things advantage that can be created from a connected car platform like Mojio.

Darren Roberts, VP of marketing at Mojio, explains:

We regularly host or participate in weekend hackathons as well as with longer-term hacks with partners like Microsoft or BMW around specific objectives. We have found from the weekend hacks, while awesome for idea generation and basic app development, [that] full-blown, marketable apps are few and far between, and the developers often lack the resources to take their idea to market after the weekend. By providing a longer time frame for development and tweaking, and by offering go-to-market support as prizes, we're addressing those challenges directly. From our recent online hackathon with Microsoft, we learned that the ideas and intention are there; all developers need is the time and support to make money on the Mojio platform.

The grand prize includes 40 hours of professional support from app development strategist Invoke (valued at $5,000). Prizes will also be awarded for the following categories:

  • Best eco-friendly driving app
  • Best gamified driving app
  • Best safer driving app

Additional prizes for using AT&T APIs and runner-up and wild-card prizes are also being offered.

Roberts believes the challenge can kick-start a new wave of ecosystem growth for the fledgling connected car market:

When you start to talk about the business opportunity for a developer to be the benchmark app against which other apps are measured, you see sparks fly. The car data we provide gets people excited from the get-go and connected car is still a greenfield opportunity, so really, the bar is still pretty low for killer apps. Personally, I'm a fan of making driving easier through automated payments, but voice command is also super-sexy when you consider distracted driving initiatives.

Participants can register on the Challenge Post Hack Your Ride page.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities.