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Ford announces app hack cash grab

Hearing the call: Ford wants smartphone apps that help buyers of its cars save fuel.

In-car fuel economy challenge opens up with $50,000 carrot from Ford

Ford logo28 Mar 2013

FORD will offer a $50,000 reward to mobile phone hackers who help it drive down the fuel economy of its cars.

The US car-maker recently released the software used to control its cars for anyone wanting to develop unique mobile phone-like applications that the company could roll out in future vehicles.

However, Ford announced at this week’s New York motor show that it wanted to speed up development of apps that help people save fuel, offering a $50,000 incentive for those who spark the best and brightest ideas.

The OpenXC software provides anyone who is interested with a virtual Ford car’s electronics system.

Ford is hoping that app hackers will tap into a range of data available from the car’s hundreds of sensors to shape a smartphone-like app that can coach people to drive more economically using a fun, engaging interface.

Executive vice-president of global marketing Jim Farley said the car-maker needed to help customers understand "personal fuel economy" based on personal experiences, and then “give them the tools to see, know what to expect and how to improve”.

The “Personalised Fuel Efficiency App Challenge”, as the competition will be known, will look for “the best way to aggregate, visualise and define personal fuel economy", notes from Mr Farley’s speech at the show say.

According to Mr Farley, vehicles produce a wealth of real-time data that makes cars the equivalent of “rolling computers”.

“(Cars have) hundreds of sensors – speed, steering, temperature, tire pressure, fuel consumption and more,” he said.

“Pair that with capabilities of a smartphone (and you have an) amazing opportunity to gather accurate information about personal fuel economy.”

Mr Farley said drivers could also opt to share the data with other road users.

“With enough consumers sharing (you can) get crowd-sourced data of people who live near you, drive like you,” he said.

He said comparing the data with that of other users would help drivers to improve their own fuel efficiency.

The competition, available via ford.challengepost.com, officially opens on April 24.

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