Innovation That Matters

Volkswagen crowdsources apps for in-car info & entertainment

Mobility & Transport

Now that Starbucks has turned to the crowds for help redesigning its paper coffee cups and Pepsi has asked for guidance on its community giving, it seems only natural that Volkswagen should crowdsource ideas for its next in-car entertainment system. Indeed, Volkswagen just launched a new contest—dubbed App My Ride—to invite designers, programmers, developers and interested users to help develop applications for its future in-car infotainment systems. Volkswagen has already begun developing a prototype for its new system—involving, specifically, a touch-screen integrated in a vehicle’s center console—and it hopes to research as many potential apps as possible. Toward that end, it has launched an innovation community through which consumers can contribute their own apps and ideas. To develop an app, participants must have not just an idea but also a graphic design of the user interface and the ability to program in Adobe Flash or Flex. They can then submit their compiled app as a SWF file; in fact, the contest’s software development kit even includes an AppPlayer for testing those applications. Those without full-fledged apps, meanwhile, are welcome to submit their ideas for consideration as well. Participants can submit as many apps and ideas as they want by the contest’s June 30 deadline. In August, the most innovative application will be chosen by the App My Ride community and a jury consisting of Volkswagen managers and external experts. The first-place winner will receive EUR 3,000 as well as a trip to take part in an international vehicle presentation, including flight and hotel. Second- and third-prize winners will receive EUR 2,000 and EUR 1,000, respectively. Other prizes for apps, ideas and participation will include non-cash awards such as a Volkswagen car for a weekend; a special prize for students, meanwhile, involves a 6-month internship within Volkswagen Group Research. By launching this contest, Volkswagen is the first car manufacturer to crowdsource product development, it says. Given the growing ranks of major companies that have already taken that route in other industries, however, it seems safe to say it won’t be the last. Which auto brand will be next to tap the awe-inspiring power of the global brain…? (Related: Crowdsourced dream cars inspired by destinationsOpen source eco-car, designed by wiki.)



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