American innovators have once again responded to a national call to action. Nearly 40 teams submitted ideas in response to a $50,000 Apps for Vehicles Challenge that seeks to improve safety and fuel efficiency through data innovation. Entrepreneurs were given the task to demonstrate what new products or services could help vehicle owners take advantage of largely untapped data from their own vehicles. Eight finalists have been selected to move on to the second phase of the competition based on the business plans and product prototypes they submitted during the first phase. Based on these initial submissions, it is already clear that these ideas could transform the transportation sector.
The finalists include, in no particular order:
- Dash Labs -- turns any vehicle into a “smart car” by providing real diagnostics and alerts, enabling the driver to maximize engine performance, minimize carbon emissions, and save money.
- Moj.io -- pronounced (mo-jee-o) is cloud-connecting cars with a cellular device that lets apps on smart phones talk to virtually any car. Moj.io seeks to be the first open platform for car apps.
- VELOcarTM -- by competitively comparing your improved driving habits to your peers, you can have a safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly driving experience.
- Green Button Gamer -- this Driver Challenge is a merger of social apps and “gamification,” enabling a user with a platform that lets them save energy and become a safer driver.
- Fuel Economy Coach -- not only will this app show your actual fuel efficiency, as opposed to manufacturer’s advertisement, it will also provide custom recommendations to save money.
- Drive5 -- this app makes feedback available to any driver, anywhere, and is based on 5 key metrics: real-time MPG, social energy feedback, route comparisons, journey average MPG and an overall performance score.
- MyCarma -- a fuel economy sticker that’s completely based on you, allowing individuals purchasing a new car to predict fuel consumption based on their unique driving patterns.
- ecoTRX -- this app enables consumers to achieve and report personalized fuel economy levels.
Finalists will receive a modest cash award and exclusive access to transportation industry leaders, which will help the teams develop the final versions of their products. The whole process culminates with an American Idol-style public-voting competition and a final announcement of the grand prize winners on April 1.
This vehicle competition continues in the “My Data” tradition of the Green Button-oriented Apps for Energy Challenge, which demonstrated that empowering people with their own electricity consumption data can help to fight climate change while also saving people money. As with the Apps for Energy Challenge, the Apps for Vehicles Challenge seeks to spur a new wave of product innovation and small business growth. These finalists demonstrate that newly available data can fuel this type of economic development.
This competition supports the Administration’s MyData initiatives, which seek to spread the ability for people to securely access to their own data while spurring the growth of private-sector applications and services that a person can use for a growing array of useful purposes. Additionally, Apps for Vehicles supports the Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge -- an initiative announced by President Obama on March 7, 2012, to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles.