It’s Fuel-Saving App Time At Ford

As of yesterday, mobile app developers who want to help drivers better understand how they use fuel can submit their OpenXC-based apps to the Ford Personalized Fuel Efficiency App Challenge.

The challenge runs through July 24, 2013. Later this summer a panel of judges will evaluate the submissions and award $50,000 in cash prizes for the best apps, with $25,000 going to the overall winner.

The Personalized Fuel Efficiency App Challenge was announced last month at the New York International Auto Show by Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. Ford’s goal with this app challenge is to provide drivers with tools that show how they are using fuel and where they can save.

“We’re really excited to see just what consumers and developers come back to us with on sharing and understanding their own fuel economy performance,” said Farley. “The aim of the challenge is to empower drivers with the information they need to drive smarter and to find ways to share that information in order to help others understand what fuel economy they can expect in various driving situations.”

Anyone can participate and have a look at the submissions at http://ford.challengepost.com/.

“We see the car as a platform on which others can create and build solutions tailored to individual needs,” said Venkatesh Prasad, Ford senior technical leader for open innovation. “OpenXC puts Ford at the leading edge of taking it to the next level by providing developers and drivers with easy access to the data they need to make smart decisions.”

Ford said developers can use the open-source OpenXC hardware and software development kit to read a wide array of real-time vehicle data and pull these into either mobile or Web-based apps. The apps can then be used to inform drivers with coaching for more fuel efficient driving, route comparisons to help identify the most efficient path to a destination or help in finding available parking.

App submissions will be evaluated on three primary criteria – viability, user interface design and vehicle data.

  • Viability: Since the goal of the challenge is to help drivers better understand their personal fuel consumption, making the app as easy to use as possible is critical to success. Automated data capture and analysis that minimizes the need for driver self-reporting will make apps more viable
  • User interface: Whether on a smartphone or in a desktop browser, user interfaces that present tangible information the driver can actually use and act upon are preferable to basic data visualization
  • Vehicle data: Developers will get higher marks for innovative employment of vehicle data, including fusion of multiple data types into meaningful signals, that can help the driver use less fuel

Ford has designed the challenge to be open to individuals, teams and organizations of up to 50 people. Larger organizations can also enter for the chance to get recognition awards, but those entries will not be eligible for cash prizes.

The expert panel will consist of five to seven judges with members from inside and outside of Ford.

Developers must submit either a working Android app or a link to a Web app, along with screenshots and a video demonstrating the working app.

“We’re excited to see what hobbyists and software developers will create with Ford’s OpenXC API,” said Brandon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost, the online platform powering the competition. “Running on a combination of the Arduino and Android platforms, OpenXC taps into an ever-growing community of creative hardware and software hackers and opens up thousands of possibilities for vehicle-aware apps.”

Ford said anyone with an idea they would like to see implemented into an app can be a part of the challenge even if they can’t write a single line of code.

Anyone can submit app ideas to http://Ideas.Ford.ChallengePost.com for a chance to win $100 said Ford. All visitors to http://ford.challengepost.com/ can create a free account and vote for their favorite submissions. The entry that gets the most votes wins the popular choice award and $1,000 in cash.