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Livio Aims to Put 1000s of Smartphone Apps into Every Car

New system would simplify process of adding new apps to systems like Ford Sync or NissanConnect.

by on Apr.18, 2012

Motorists are demanding access to smartphone apps like Pandora as they drive.

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.

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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.


Automakers Argue Portable Cellphones, GPS Can Also Distract

Auto industry wants smartphone and portable GPS makers covered by new distracted driving rules.

by on Mar.12, 2012

Government data reveals that while highway fatalities are declining, distracted driving deaths have been rising.

New federal guidelines could soon put strict limits in place on the use of high-tech infotainment systems – but are the proposed rules missing some of the most blatant contributors to distracted driving?

That’s a point that several automakers plan to raise during hearings today that are expected to help define new rules aimed at limiting distracted driving.  The rules under study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would impact technology such as the Ford Sync system and Toyota’s EnForm, but manufacturers argue that the new guidelines should also include portable devices brought into a vehicle.

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“Our idea is that people should not be distracted by anything,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

U.S. highway fatalities fell to their lowest level ever last year when adjusted to reflect the ever increasing number of miles driven by American motorists.  But the good news was tempered by the fact that federal data showed one of every 11 highway fatalities came as the result of texting, cellphoning or some other form of distracted driving.