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For both drivers and companies that create technologies to keep drivers safer, time is everything.
At AirWire Technologies, we have been blown away by how quickly the IBM Garage helped bring our solution to market. AirWire created the Connected Car Internet of Things (IoT) device, which plugs into a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port and provides data to help drivers optimize safety, convenience and efficiency.
This market is moving fast, so we had to build an app quickly and enable it on a cloud platform. We realized we didn’t have a cloud service that could extract a vehicle’s information, make sense of it and provide value-added services to the driver and passengers. We looked for a partner to help us acquire the cloud capabilities we needed and help us simplify the driving experience. We were happy to learn that IBM was interested in connected car technology as an area where IBM Watson could be put to effective use.
Steering the smart car device build
We engaged the IBM Garage to help us build the app. We explained our concept in detail to the San Francisco Garage team: our device has built-in 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a gyroscope and an accelerometer, so from a hardware standpoint, it basically has everything that a modern cell phone has, minus the screen and camera. It essentially turns regular vehicles into very, very smart vehicles.
Everything else in our lives — phones, homes, televisions — is intelligent, and because we spend so much time in our cars, we believe it’s time for our cars to be smart, too. Currently, you see people trying to make up for vehicles’ lack of the latest technology by doing dangerous things like driving and texting or playing with their navigation system while speeding down the highway. We wanted to build a device that would help drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while doing everything else with their voices.
Connecting customer needs to the product
Our initial meeting was an all-hands-on-deck session with the Garage experts, who determined the skill set and resources necessary to develop our device. The team immediately began working to create a minimum viable product (MVP) so that we could take our app to market.
The Garage’s approach was genius. To develop an MVP, we looked at potential customers’ needs in a whole new way. We created a fictitious personality, an individual named Sara, so we could build our app around her needs. We examined her life for 24 hours, starting with when she woke up, and followed her as she used her mobile device, dropped her kids off at school, went to appointments, looked for a grocery store and stopped for gas. We thought carefully about how our device could help her. If her car could notify her that something was wrong with the vehicle and help her find a repair shop, wouldn’t that be amazing? If her car could tell her she didn’t have enough gas to go everywhere she needed to, wouldn’t that help her restructure her day?
It was an eye-opening experience to see since we created Sara out of thin air. But over time, we began to know her, and we realized she is all of us. The IBM Design Thinking process was the single greatest aspect of the Garage, because looking at our app through Sara’s eyes enabled us to come up with things we hadn’t thought of initially.
Driving into the future
With the Garage approach, we saw the advantage of partnering with a company like IBM. We didn’t just have one entity look at our app and begin a serial development process, meaning you develop one block and then the next. The Garage looked at the whole picture and identified where there were holes. Then it looked at all the different areas of IBM and brought in what we needed to fill the holes, such as IBM Watson Personal Assistant (which became our device’s personal assistant, Jarvis), IBM IoT for Auto and the IBM Cloud. The Garage team extracted everything this app needed and put it in one place. We had an app that was ready for market in less than 90 days. Watch this video about our experience to learn more.
The Garage made all of this possible, and we can’t wait to see future iterations. We will take our baseline app into the market as a pilot and then go into commercial deployment.
There are a lot of unknowns, but we know we will have a long-term relationship with the Garage as we enhance the MVP.
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