Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Chris Fleck

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

@ThingsExpo: Article

How to Develop Apps for Vehicles

I like the idea of using an OBD-II dongle in the vehicle to talk with the smartphone

VisionMobile recently published one of the best reports on apps for vehicles that I have read. It is frustrating with how difficult it is to actually get an app approved for use in a car. Here are some of the unique challenges:

  • Safety first considerations (like driver distraction)
  • Long sales and car vendor app approval process
  • Car vendor led UX and ideation processes
  • Low risk strategies for selecting apps
  • Deal negotiation skills requirement
  • Massive market fragmentation

The analogy VisionMobile offers is one that I remember vividly myself. That of running a small mobile games company (back before the days of iOS and Android App Stores around ) and trying to get a deal with a telecommunications operator in order to convince them to distribute your app on their private App Store. Often games and applications were embedded into the mobile devices and so you also had the option of trying to get a deal with a mobile phone company (which was equally as hard).

With the lack of portability of Java ME, mobile device fragmentation and not having the right business skills to win a decent contract meant that the mobile app market was on its last legs before Apple saved the day with the App Store. This is sadly an analogous state of affairs with apps today designed for the automotive industry.

There are five ways to develop Apps for vehicels:

  1. Run Apps in the In-Vehicle entertainment systems (Blackberry QNX CAR, Windows Embedded Automotive, Linux Genivi and Android)
  2. Use a link to a smartphone (Airbiquity, OpenCar, CloudCar, SmartDeviceLink / AppLink, MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay, Google Open Automotive Alliance and Windows in the Car)
  3. Remote access to the vehicle through an API (OnStar, General Motors API, Ford Remote API, Airbiquity, reverse engineering of vehicle protocols)
  4. Access to data through the On Board Diagnostics port called OBD-II (Dash Labs, Mojio, Carvoyant and MetroMile)
  5. New and emerging initiatives (W3C Automotive and Web Platform Business Group and OpenXC)

Apple, Google and Microsoft are all making a strong play for a link between the vehicle and their smartphones (#2 above), and effectively using the car as a third party accessory. This actually has the strong benefit that you can upgrade both the hardware and the software easily. It also makes testing easier because you can test on mobile hardware using stubs for the in-vehicle APIs, as opposed to requiring test hardware for the In-Vehicle entertainment systems.

If we look at the Insurance sector then we can see that remote access through an API or access through OBD-II is going to get better diagnostics for initiatives like pay-as-you-drive insurance (MetroMile). The W3C have a new HTML5 for Automotive initiative ( which doesn't seem to have produced a specification yet. OpenXC is a hardware module which gives access to vehicle data much like OBD-II but it also offers pluggable open hardware modules.

I also wanted to mention Carvoyant ( which reads data from OBD-II using a Bluetooth dongle and then sends it to a smartphone which in turns sends it to their Backend-as-a-Service.

"Carvoyant is a middleware platform providing development tools enabling connected car applications to become a reality for all the cars on the road today.  In plain speak, that means we provide the back end tools helping developers and businesses alike to take advantage of the opportunities a connected car promises to deliver.  Carvoyant services developers creating connected car applications (i.e. apps enhancing how cars interact with the world around us via an internet connection).  Additionally, our platform serves businesses using the connected car to better communicate their offers to their customers. As a Backend-as-a-Service platform Carvoyant breaks down the data silos inherent in the auto industry. Our system collects data from all makes and models of vehicles built since 1996 across a wide variety of hardware devices and sources. This data is normalized and provided to our customers via our API. Today developers are utilizing this data to create the most robust array of apps and services for the connected car. "

There are five main routes to markets for vehicle apps:

  1. Pre-installation into a vehicle
  2. Through the vehicle manufacturer's App Store
  3. Write an app that runs on a smartphone and integrates with a vehicle through their private SDK
  4. Write an app that uses OBD-II and requires users to purchase an OBD-II Bluetooth dongle and distribute via a standard App Store
  5. Write an app that uses OBD-II and piggy-backs on top of an over-the-top platform like Dash or Carvoyant

The first two options require a deal with a vehicle manufacturer. The third option requires a deal with a vehicle manufacturer if you intend to use their private APIs. Only the fourth and fifth options enable you to avoid explicit approval from a vehicle manufacturer but that also means you won't get access to their marketing resources.

I like the idea of using an OBD-II dongle in the vehicle to talk with the smartphone.  This in turn talks to a cloud service.  If Carvoyant / Dash start to see great success with this over-the-top model then hopefully they can grow the ecosystem.

If the dark age before the Apple and Android App Stores have taught us anything it is that developers are the key to success and history does have a habit of repeating itself.


Kevin Benedict

Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of WorkCognizant

View my profile on LinkedIn

Learn about mobile strategies at

Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict

Browse the Mobile Solution Directory

Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility

Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos

Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in high-performance, high-efficiency server, storage technology and green computing, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and Embedded Systems worldwide. Supermi...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.