Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (CES) was all about the hot pursuit of the in-vehicle dashboard by mobile advertising, content, and electronic providers. In the race to distinguish their models by adding more apps and connectivity, automakers are making it easier for apps to talk to cars. Automakers also showcased autonomous vehicles, including a self-driving car; and Inrix has made finding parking spaces easier. But CES isn’t the only place making news. The mapping battles, of course, continue, and the European Parliament is considering privacy measures that would make it difficult for digital content and service providers to subsist on ad revenue.
CES wasn’t about the wireless carriers or the handset makers. Not wanting to be left in the dust of the Google driverless car, Audi jumped on the bandwagon and is focusing on piloted driving and parking technology. Audi introduced self-driving car technology that it claims will enable a car to seek out a parking space in a garage and park, all without a driver. Audi received the second license from the State of Nevada to test autonomous vehicles on the state’s public roads. Google was the first company to obtain a license, and Audi has acquired the first license by a car maker. Toyota is taking a different tack and is focused on providing intelligent pre-collision systems, and not a car that drives itself, but may eventually do so.
Park your car? INRIX, known for traffic data, announced a parking service that provides real-time information on the number of available spaces at off-street parking locations, as well as current parking fees. The parking database includes more than 18,000 parking facilities in North America and 42,000 in Europe (36 countries). The data are sourced from ParkMe (formerly Parking in Motion) and Parkopedia. Kenwood will include INRIX parking in new in-dash DVD entertainment receivers, along with INRIX real-time traffic information, fuel and weather services.
Have you programmed a Ford Lately? Ford continues to lead in-vehicle mobile connectivity. The company has further opened up APIs to make it easier for developers to access in-car controls and the vehicle display. Those that want to share from the road are in luck. Ford has also added a location-sharing app from Glympse. With the Glympse smartphone app and Ford SYNC AppLInk, drivers can share their whereabouts or estimated time of arrival via a real-time dynamic map. Glympse also has a partnership with Mercedes Benz.
Bump in the road for contextual advertising? Companies that depend on mobile and online advertising in the European Union (EU) may be in for a tailspin. EU Europeans may have the strongest control of their online identities if a bill is passed by the European Parliament to overhaul data protection laws. Web tracking and profiling would not be allowed without consumer consent. With app and content providers depending on personalized advertising to provide revenue, alternate means of revenue would be needed as many consumers will be reticent. We’d see a return to a more subscription-based world and a smaller industry. The proposal, if approved, would create a European Union agency charged with enforcing a full series of privacy measures to give Internet users greater control of online information. The agency would be empowered to levy fines of up to two percent of a company’s revenue.
Update on the patent wars. Industry is falling over itself in pursuit of intellectual property. Although it is about the quality and not size, patent numbers are revealing. IBM was granted more patents in 2012 than any other company, the 20th year the company has taken first place. Archenemies Google and Apple posted the biggest increases in 2012, but were trounced by another rival, Samsung, who was second to IBM with more than 5,000 patents granted last year. Apple was awarded 1,236 patents in 2012, 68 percent more than the preceding year. Google posted a 170 percent jump in patents granted in 2012, with 1,151 patents. Google and Apple will continue to rocket fuel their intellectual property collection with acquisitions.
Turn at which Starbucks? Garmin unveiled a range of new personal navigation devices (PNDs). The new products include Natural Guidance from Navteq, re-branded as “Real Directions.” Directions include recognized landmarks, buildings, traffic lights and stop signs. On some models, traffic information and alternate routes are provided by voice.
Mapping skirmish. Google has been reportedly blocking Windows phones from using Google Maps from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser in a ploy to convert IE users to Google Chrome. Microsoft cried foul and Google provided a flimsy excuse of compatibility issues and reversed course.