Long gone are days when drivers had to settle for scratchy AM radio on their daily commutes. It’s hard to find a new model in showrooms, these days, not equipped with FM, a CD changer, perhaps a hard drive and, more and more frequently, a system like Ford’s popular Sync that links to various smartphone applications to let them play through the vehicle’s speakers.
In fact, manufacturers have been racing to line up “app” partners, notably the Pandora music system and Stitcher news service, seeing a competitive advantage in the number they can offer customers. But that’s not always easy. It can require a significant amount of engineering resources to get an app and a system like Sync, the Mercedes-Benz mbrace2, or the new NissanConnect to work with one another.
But a small start-up from the Detroit suburb of Ferndale believes it may have the answer. Called Livio, it wants to position itself as a sort of software middleman. Technology it has developed could simplify the process of connecting app to car – permitting motorists to access literally thousands of smartphone services, from music to social networking.
“My focus is to get apps into cars,” says Jake Sigal, the founder and CEO of Livio, which operates out of a small, one-story building about 10 miles north of the Detroit riverfront.