Sprint, IBM use the cloud to link smartphones and cars

Sprint (NYSE:S) has tapped IBM to help it create the Sprint Velocity Service Bus, a communications architecture that will enable automotive OEMs to deliver customized in-vehicle infotainment, security and convenience features via the cloud.

Sprint is adding to its existing Sprint Velocity connected-vehicle platform with the IBM MessageSight appliance, a piece of hardware with firmware that enables management of all sorts of mobile devices and sensors found in systems such as automobiles, traffic management systems, smart buildings and household appliances. Sprint envisions using the appliance to enable seamless integration with drivers' mobile devices, which can be used to customize the car to their specific preferences.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson

While Sprint Velocity already enables infotainment features, as well as security, navigation, remote connections for mobile devices, emergency services and engine diagnostics, the Sprint Velocity Service Bus enhancement goes a step further. It stores preferences such as seat position, cabin temperature and radio stations in the cloud, updating and syncing them via the driver's smartphone every time the car is turned on. Further, users can port these preferences across multiple vehicles via the cloud.

"The Sprint Velocity Service Bus allows us to be the one point of contact for auto OEMs. That eliminates changes to the in-vehicle platform. As long as they're always connecting to the Sprint Velocity Service Bus, we can seamlessly connect other third-party vendors, other API providers on the backend without having to interrupt what's going on in the car," Bob S. Johnson, director of development for Sprint Velocity, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

Though Sprint obviously would like to have auto manufacturers use its CDMA and LTE networks for car connectivity, Johnson stressed that Sprint Velocity is network agnostic, and the carrier is addressing the market as a systems integrator.

Michael Curry

Michael Curry

IBM MessageSight is part of IBM's MobileFirst platform, introduced late last year, which is a set of technologies designed to help organizations fully leverage mobile opportunities. MessageSight, based upon Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) technology rather than the slower HTTP, expanded that vision beyond phones and tablets to "any kind of mobile device, including the most complex mobile device, the automotive vehicle," said Michael Curry, IBM vice president of product management.

MessageSight can handle communications transactions "almost sub-second" via MQTT and works when the vehicle is in a low-power state, said Johnson. "This gives us a solid platform to grow and add multiple vehicles and multiple OEMs into the ecosystem without a huge upfront investment."

IBM is also working directly with Ford, which has been testing MessageSight in pre-release, beta mode.

Sprint Velocity, billed as an end-to-end mobile integration solution, was unveiled in November 2012. The platform is the foundation of Chrysler's new generation Uconnect Access product, which is available in the 2013 Ram 1500, SRT Viper and the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

"Sprint is currently talking to multiple auto companies about the Service Bus, including Chrysler, but it's not a service they use today, as it's still in prototype," said Sprint spokesman Walter Fowler.

More than 50 percent of new cars sold during 2015 will offer wireless connectivity either by embedded, tethered or smartphone integration, and that percentage will grow to include all or nearly all new cars sold in 2025, according to a report recently issued by the GSMA and conducted by research firm SBD.

For more:
- see this Sprint and IBM release

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