Nokia on Friday announced Here Auto, their first push into a smarter vehicle platform. Noting the growing rift between automobiles and smart devices, Nokia’s Here Auto is expected to be their first push into building software to be used by the driverless cars of the future.
Just like its namesake, Here Auto delivers maps and other navigation information to the car’s in-dash infotainment system. Going beyond maps, Here Auto companion apps will deliver music and social experiences as well as let drivers check their gas tank and tire pressure from their smartphone.
The Finnish smartphone maker plans to show off Here Auto at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 10, 2013.
Here Auto is a part of the larger Here offering to customers. The Auto portion will cover Here Auto Cloud, Here Auto Companion and Here Traffic.
“People say they love their phones and they love their cars,” said Nokia’s vice president of Connected Cars Floris Van-De-Klashorst in an interview with GigaOm. “But their relationship with their embedded car systems is ice cold.”
While the first iteration of Here Auto may be technologically behind any autonomous car, Nokia aims to use this system as a proverbial foot in the door as car makers begin to seriously weigh their driverless offerings. Here Auto delivers some convenient features, but the plan is to lay down the first pieces of a system which will one day integrate in the future “smart city” and allow the car to communicate with other vehicles and a variety of connected things.
There are several aspects of Here Auto which strengthen the relationship between these two machines, but there are times when the two simply must exist independently of one another. Cell coverage, while pervasive, has not yet penetrated every corner of the world and there are areas which are still left with no bars. Nokia says they’ve thought of this and promise Here Auto will work in areas with low to no connectivity. When the car is within a connected network, it stays up to date by downloading frequent and small over-the-air updates. Users who plan to take a trip rather far away can download new maps and have them ready.
Here Cloud keeps all the maps from different devices in sync and brings them to the dash. For instance, a driver who looks up a location on their tablet or desktop in the house can save the route to the cloud and have it ready for them in the car. Furthermore, once the driver parks the car, they can use Here on their smartphone for walking directions to their destination. Traffic updates, construction zone detours and fuel prices are also stored in the cloud. App makers will also be able to write Here functionality into their own apps via Nokia’s APIs. For instance, Foursquare could one day allow drivers to find their friends in their cars and take them directly to their current location.
The Here Auto Companion is the portion of Here Auto which allows users to check their fuel levels and tire pressure from their devices. Users can also check public transit routes and see indoor maps of some buildings. Nokia’s LiveSight augmented reality offering will also help those users who can’t remember where they parked their car.
Nokia is in talks with several auto makers to bring Here Auto natively to a number of cars. Nokia says they’re partnering with Italian auto parts maker Magneti Marelli to deliver Here to the market in “the coming months.”