Notes From the Auto Show: Smarter, Sexier, More Fun

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onto an intermediary platform. The apps that are created from this data will be housed in a catalog (they declined to call it an app store to avoid copyright complaints) and consumers will be able to choose and/or change which apps they install. The framework uses HTML5 and Javascript.

At CES, GM held a hackathon seeking innovative ideas, which drew 1,000 participants. Each team was supposed to have five minutes to pitch its idea, says Scott Fosgard, GM’s communications manager for Infotainment, but because so many teams participated, that time was cut down to 90 seconds. “There’s a huge, huge appetite for this sort of thing,” he says.

Fosgard imagines a future where a GM app will be able to tell an insurance company about the safety habits of a driver, or a Corvette capable of teaching owners how to drive better. Or, Fosgard says, imagine being able to plug the route of your road trip into an in-car app and have it tell you along the way where the cheapest places are to stop for gas. Fosgard calls GM’s technology a significant departure from what other car companies are doing because it allows consumers to add and change apps over the life of the car.

Fosgard compares the current push toward the personalization of cars through apps and other technology to the hot rods of the past. “Hot rodding came about out of a desire for customization,” he says. “Today’s hot-rodder is the developer changing the way drivers use the car radio. Now, just like with a smartphone, the longer you have [your car] the better you understand it and the more you like it. We’ve redefined what the car is and does and how long drivers want to keep it.”

In an economy that still seems to be slow to create jobs, this is definitely another avenue for developers to explore. Sick of making the same old smartphone apps? Then maybe it’s time to give the auto industry a try.

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