How can we bring the garage into the car?
“Where do I need to pick up my daughter?” – “Did you have to burn rubber like that?” At the end of the first Bosch mySPIN hackathon, the participants could answer these and many more questions. The event brought experts from outside and inside the company together and provided a forum for creative ideas on the subject of vehicle connectivity. Bosch corporate communications and Bosch SoftTec invited more than 20 freelance software developers and designers to the “Rainmaking Loft” in Berlin to spend 24 hours creating new apps and making existing ones more useful for drivers. They were also the first to be granted exclusive access to the developer interface of mySPIN, a software solution which allows apps on iOS and Android smartphones to be quickly and seamlessly integrated into a car’s infotainment system. The apps can then be operated via the vehicle’s display and controls much more comfortably and safely than on the device itself.
How it all begun
It was the auto blogging community that approached me some time ago with the idea to stage a Bosch hackathon. And with mySPIN we had the perfect opportunity to bring in external experts to work with us on a concrete Bosch connectivity product. Together with Kay Herget from Bosch SoftTec the first Bosch hackathon soon started to take shape.
Then last Saturday morning, we were very glad to see that eight teams had formed to take part in the event. They dedicated themselves to a very broad spectrum of projects, from a fuel saver trainer, the audio app, which adapts music to driving style, to the smart home solution “chill-out control.” And then the clock started ticking: they had only 24 hours to create their prototypes before these were to be presented to a jury comprising internal and external experts. Up for grabs was for example a weekend trip to London….
In a focused yet relaxed atmosphere, the teams got to work. At all times, they were supported by Bosch’s own mySPIN experts, who themselves gained valuable feedback in the form of an external perspective. All the teams, some of whom worked on their apps round the clock, had the same objective: to take their projects as far as possible before presenting them to the judges on the Sunday afternoon.
The judges panel comprised the Bosch management board member Dirk Hoheisel, Nicole Y. Männl, an auto blogger from auto-diva.de, Ludovic Privat, the co-founder and editor of the GPS Business News portal, Morten Faust, head of product development at the software company Aupeo!, Dietmar Meister, who is responsible for smartphone and cloud solutions at Bosch SoftTec, and Carolin Tolksdorf from Bosch’s own venture capital arm RBVC.
For the judges, the clear winner was the mySPIN adaptation of the “Familonet” app by David Nellesen and Marius Klausa. This smartphone app uses communication channels such as chat and GPS to connect family members. Using mySPIN to extend its use to the car opens up new possibilities: for example, if a daughter sees that her father is driving in the vicinity, a press of a button is all it takes to tell him she wants him to pick her up. The app is so interesting that the people responsible for mySPIN want to have further talks with the creators.
Second place went to the “appSesame” team, made up of Sascha Kulawik and Arne Brockwitz. Using a miniature garage they had made themselves out of Lego bricks, they demonstrated how a key symbol appears automatically on the vehicle touchscreen as soon as the vehicle approaches its garage. Pressing the button on the display opens the garage door.
The ekoio “Spritspartrainer” (fuel-saver trainer) app adaptation by Martin Feige and Eric Kelm won the third prize. On the basis of current driving style – when accelerating or braking, for example – the software gives drivers tips on how to improve fuel consumption.
Right from the beginning the event also received a lot of attention in the cybersphere. On Twitter alone, the #BoschHackathon hashtag achieved a global reach of more than five million Twitter impressions. Kay and myself were really happy to see that anyone involved loved our idea: reach out to new target groups in the connected car sector. Looking forward to more hackathons to come!