Summary:

Sprint and IBM are betting that the cloud will be the key component of the connected car of the future. It’s not just about connecting your car to the internet. It’s about who’s in the driver’s seat.

future car cloud
photo: Shutterstock

For the last year Sprint has been assembling a team of impressive technology partners to help build its Velocity connected car platform, but starting Wednesday it’s bringing in a ringer. IBM is working with Sprint to build a suite of cloud-powered services linking the smartphone and automobile together.

Sprint is tapping into a technology called MessageSight emerging from IBM’s new Mobile First strategy. MessageSight functions as a management system for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, coordinating data from any number of sensors, devices and appliances so they can be used to create interlinked services and applications. In Sprint’s case, it’s using MessageSight to power several telematics apps that can be accessed from a smartphone.

As with other vehicle telematics platform, Velocity can turn a smartphone into a remote control that could, for instance, remotely unlock a car’s doors or start its engine. But IBM and Sprint are building up service layer between the smartphone and car in the cloud, one that can store diagnostic information and driver preferences and put it to use across of variety in-vehicle and external apps.

Look to Korea for How Connected Cars Can Save Money, PlanetSettings ranging from seat position, preferred temperature, song playlists and favorite destinations could be stored in the cloud, and automatically loaded into a vehicle as soon as the engine starts. Not only could you create an individual driver profile for everyone in your family, but a company could manage millions of profiles across entire fleets of vehicles. A rental car agency or a car-sharing service like ZipCar could instantly load your infotainment apps and nav preferences into whatever car you happen to be in at given day or hour.

Sprint aims to become a back-end provider of vehicle connectivity services, which is a tall order for a single mobile carrier operating in a single country. Automakers tend to think beyond country borders when it comes to car sales and services.

In a recent interview, however, Sprint VP of M2M Wayne Ward said the carrier is approaching the connected car not merely as a connectivity provider, but as a systems integrator. Ultimately Sprint may provide only a portion — or none at all — of the wireless links to the connected car. But it can supply the technology that makes meaningful whatever connectivity an automaker chooses, Ward said.

“We’re not naïve,” Ward said. “We know everyone isn’t going to take the whole package … But we know this world far better. We know mobility, we know billing, and we know how to make the whole thing work.”

For more info on the connected car, check out GigaOM’s infographic.

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