OpenCar: Connecting Drivers to their Digital World

Jeff Payne, Founder
An average driver spends 335 hours behind the wheel per year, and during most of that time, he wants to maintain his connected digital lifestyle. But compared with the fixed-function infotainment systems of yesterday, the connected cars of today represent an entirely new category of software-defined device. Developing telematics-driven automotive infotainment systems has become an increasingly complex and expensive proposition. And, the way automakers currently develop and deliver Apps to the car cannot possibly scale to accommodate future customer demand. Realizing this, Jeff Payne founded OpenCar, Inc. in Seattle, WA, to build an automotive App development platform that satisfies the diverse requirements of developers, integrators, automakers and drivers for today and the future.

“In order to create an automotive App today, developers must create custom code for each automaker’s target system, thinking through the details of their each car’s unique on-screen presentation, remote buttons, voice controls and potentially thousands of vehicle sensor feeds. Meantime, automakers must maintain absolute product precision to create an intuitive, rock-solid user experience. And, automotive-grade Apps have to remain fresh and performant on hardware that will eventually become very old before being retired,” says Jeff Payne. “Mobile developers have been eyeing this market, but lack of access to automakers, and their inability to efficiently integrate new Apps into a vehicle’s HMI, results in so much friction that the market has yet to take off, When the right tools and practices are in place, the universe of in-car Apps will explode,” adds Payne.

OpenCar Connect, the company’s principal product, addresses these challenges by segregating the work performed by the developer from the work performed by the automaker or integrator, empowering each to focus on their respective specialty.
For the App developer, OpenCar’s “open” software development philosophy couples familiar APIs, video tutorials, easily searchable documentation, online support forums and well-integrated publishing interfaces—all designed to inspire creativity while simplifying the App creation process.

For automakers, OpenCar provides specialized tools that capture each automaker’s HMI in vehicle-specific profiles. These profiles “transform” the developer’s logic to comply with each vehicle’s unique HMI requirements, allowing automakers to quickly experience the way drivers might interact with new Apps. “This approach empowers developers to focus on App innovation without having to learn each car’s HMI requirements, while simultaneously ensuring automakers can deliver a consistent, safe user experience that reflects the very best of their brand,” comments Jeff. “Most automakers want to offer drivers a far wider variety of Apps, and they realize that they cannot reliably anticipate future market demands for Apps in the car. We think OpenCar’s tools and services will both motivate developers to create great automotive Apps, while simultaneously addressing the difficult engagement logistics and substantial cost inefficiencies faced by automakers today.”

OpenCar works with automakers and their Tier1 In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system builders to create model-specific profiles and App approval guidelines, to ease creation, certification, approval, testing, distribution, and lifecycle management of Apps. The reusability of App logic across automotive OEMs, car models and devices dramatically reduces time-to-market. And compared with mobile phone Apps ported to the car, the OpenCar Connect platform enables automakers, Tier1s and third-party developers to build rich telematics-enabled automotive Apps that result in safe, intuitive and gratifying user experiences.

Going forward, OpenCar plans to streamline automotive App innovation for a global list of customers. ‘A unique solution adapted to the auto industry’s inevitable evolution’—this is the OpenCar promise, making time behind the wheel well spent.


Seattle, WA

Jeff Payne, Founder

An open, standards-based platform to efficiently create automotive-grade Apps