Event Recap: District Dialogue – Future of Transportation

Last week, the IPG Media Lab attended a panel discussion around the future of transportation. Panel members, including founders of car-sharing services, venture capitalists, and a public transportation guru, addressed multiple topics such as car connectivity, self-driving capabilities, and security. From a marketing standpoint, this territory is ripe for opportunity. However, real world applications won’t be implemented until cars are more capable of driving themselves, thus shifting a driver’s attention from the road and towards the augmented windshields and screens within the vehicle. The panelists agreed that we are only 5-10 years away from this reality.

The primary barrier to autonomous cars is not the technology (which already exists in agriculture and mining vehicles) but the physical infrastructure and government regulations that the cars and manufacturers must navigate. Steps have already been taken to challenge legal boundaries and push for more flexibility for innovation. For example, Uber successfully fought off the Taxi & Limousine Commission’s attempt to limit new driver applications in New York City earlier last month, which set a precedent that regulations cannot impede customer experience or value.

There are companies that are already working to create branding opportunities within vehicles. Two companies that are attempting to crack into this space are Vin.li and Automatic. They are creating devices that plug into a car’s data port so the user can access apps and in-car WiFi. Such devices incorporate platforms for developers to build apps that are connected to the car and can also be accessed via mobile devices. Brands could potentially align with app developers to create unique user experiences within vehicles.

During the panel discussion, there was one tongue-in-cheek comment made that cars are essentially “computers with wheels.” Although this comment was made in jest, it speaks to the wide range of capabilities for brands to reach users in cars. As cars become more autonomous, drivers will become passengers and their attention will shift from operating the vehicle to operating systems. Brands will be able to collect and utilize actionable data to reach consumers on the go.

Event Recap: NY Future Mobility Meetup

Over the last few years, the “connected car” and mobility services have been in a state of rapid growth: Nokia, Intel Capital, Qualcomm, CyberAgent Ventures, and others have made heavy investments into startups that are making it possible for today’s consumers to integrate features such as 3D GPS, smart fueling, enhanced gesture control, and smartphone integration in their cars.

On Tuesday, one of these funds, BMW i Ventures hosted a NY Future Mobile Meetup that brought together mobile entrepreneurs, investors, developers, and enthusiasts.  The event featured five startups that are striving to reshape the mobility landscape:

  • Buster: Uber for large group travel
  • EverCharge: Smart charging for electric vehicles in residential areas
  • SmartCar: Personalization and automation platform for connected cars
  • TransitScreen: Real-time transportation information for smart cities
  • Valet Anywhere: On-demand valet service for cities

We’re continuing to monitor the connected car space and look forward to seeing these startups develop.

Event Recap: Myo Muscles Into NYC! Event

Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband is the latest innovation in gesture control: the electromyography-powered armband reads the electrical signals in your arm that cause muscles to contract and translates them to standardized gestures to control digital technologies through Bluetooth. The Lab had a chance to learn more at Tuesday’s NYC! Event, in which Chris Goodine, Thalmic’s Developer Evangelist, discussed the working principles of electromyography, the future of natural user interface technologies, and current and unorthodox use cases for the armband:

At Carnegie Mellon, a project research team is currently testing Myo on Parkinson patients to notify patients when it is time to take their medication. The sensors within the armband can detect early signals of the medication wearing off before symptoms of unintentional movement begin.

During PenApps recent college hackathon, a group of programming students unveiled the “Magic Board”, which is control a motorized long board controlled by the Myo.

In partnership with Oculus Rift, Thalmic has integrated the armband with Oculus Rift’s virtual reality 3D headset.  The combination allows a player to use two Myo armbands to control virtual arms in-game as if they were their own.

As gesture control technology advances, it will be interesting to see how developers integrate the technology across PC, console, and especially virtual games. The Lab is eagerly awaiting its Myo to arrive in the mail so we can start experimenting for ourselves.

MyRideBuddy Offsets Cost For 1 Million Commuters

In Singapore, commuters are taking advantage of a new, shared transport network called MyRideBuddy. The peer-to-peer rideshare provider allows people to get to where they want to go faster – while meeting new people – by matching drivers with riders for carpooling, and it sells itself by suggesting that it allows riders to link with other like-minded individuals to share a ride. To do this, participants register as Car Owner, Ride Taker, or Both, and the system matches people based on their desired journey requirements and mobile numbers. Riders are charged a ride fee plus a small transaction fee, which are passed on to car owners to offset transportation costs. In Singapore, over 1 million rides take place in more than 500,000 vehicles every day, and so MyRideBuddy facilitates more than formalizes the informal exchange of getting a ride while adding security, user agreements, and payment transaction benefits to the experience while, upon hitting a certain threshold of users, reducing traffic congestion, pollution, and personal driving expenses.