Apps coming to cars, even without phones

Drivers will be able to follow a GPS map displayed on their dashboard

Smartphones have had a massive impact on the driving world in the past few years, from saving drivers money on GPS navigation to monitoring their fuel output. Pretty soon, cars will be able to do all this on their own.

Jake Sigal, founder and CEO of Livio Connect, held a press conference at CES today to introduce its in-car technology for mobile apps. Using the increasingly common touchscreen display that comes standard in new automobiles, Livio lets users access their smartphone's mobile apps on the hardware built into their car.

CES 2013: Products to watch for

One obvious example is GPS navigation. Rather than holding a smartphone to follow directions provided by a navigation app, drivers will be able to follow a GPS map displayed on their dashboard.

Although navigation has long been available as a standard feature in a new car, Livio enables this compatibility with software alone. This eliminates the need for additional hardware within the car.

"I don't see people dropping $2,500 for a built-in navigation system anymore," Sigal says.

This may prove especially true as consumers become more familiar with modern features on navigation apps they use on their smartphones, Sigal says.

"It's not about knowing how to get there, it's about knowing when traffic's changing or the faster route to go," he says.

Other examples include highly detailed weather apps to avoid dangerous road conditions, or apps like Parkopedia, which helps drivers find open parking spaces in crowded urban areas.

Sigal also announced a new feature of the Livio technology called FM Connect, which connects a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to an FM radio broadcast. With the technology, drivers will be able to interact with an FM radio broadcast, using it to enter promotional contests, purchase songs or concert tickets, or connect with a radio station or advertiser on social media.

Automobile technology is a hot topic at CES this year. While Toyota is expected to showcase an automated driverless Lexus model at the event, others, such as Ford, will introduce more innovative in-car technology aimed at improving the driving experience.

Colin Neagle covers emerging technologies and the startup scene for Network World. Follow him on Twitter @ntwrkwrldneagle and keep up with the Microsoft, Cisco and Open Source community blogs. Colin's email address is cneagle@nww.com.

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