Daily Deals Go Mobile With Ford’s New Roximity App

8/22/12Follow @XconomyDET

The days of considering a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive as a peaceful refuge from a busy week are clearly over. Now, we expect to be able to take our hyperconnected lives with us on the road, and if we can tell our cars exactly how and who to connect with, all the better.

In the face of this new reality—as well as data that says 50 percent of its customers consider the SYNC platform to be a major factor in their purchase decision—Ford has rolled out apps from Pandora, NPR, and now Roximity that use voice-activation technology to integrate users’ smartphones and the vehicles they drive.

Denver-based Roximity is a location-based “daily deals” service. The startup was hatched in 24 hours at last year’s TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, where it went on to win the Ford SYNC App Developer Challenge. That gave Roximity access to Ford’s SYNC AppLink API so the team could make its software compatible with the in-vehicle connectivity system.

In January, Ford and Roximity debuted a demo of the new app at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; earlier this month, the automaker announced Roximity was ready for launch—and it’s the first app to have AppLink capability, Ford’s hands-free, voice-controlled mobile connectivity technology, at its initial launch.

“The in-car version of Roximity is more like a local search engine—you can tap a button on the steering wheel and look for deals around you,” Roximity co-founder and CEO Danny Newman explains. “We’ll find the best deals based on your preferences and history.”

Roximity is a request-driven system, and when users sign up, they’re presented with a list of deal categories to choose from, such as breakfast restaurants and women’s clothing. As users pass by a store or restaurant offering a discount they might be interested in, a text message is sent alerting them to the deal. In the car, drivers can connect their smartphones to SYNC, activate AppLink, and, through voice-activation technology, ask which deals are nearby in the designated categories.

Julius Marchwicki, Ford’s global project manager for SYNC AppLink, emphasizes that the deal information is only delivered to drivers when it’s “safe and relevant,” and that the driver is always in control. “I think it’s an interesting use of an app—it always knows where you are and what time it is.”

Roximity, which was recently accepted to the Boulder, CO TechStars accelerator, has an eight-member team, which Newman anticipates will grow rapidly. Newman admits that Roximity’s partnership with Ford makes sales calls a lot easier, and he says the company is focused on going after businesses with a large national footprint. “A year from now, I think we’ll be a household name,” he adds. “People will want to look at what their car’s dashboard says about a restaurant or a store before they stop. It’s an amazing opportunity, and we’re super excited.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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