The fabled 'Internet of Things' – where connected devices share information to better serve their human masters – is set to move into the mainstream this year, with cars second only to home appliances as the main field of focus for developers.
Participants at the Media Hack Day in Berlin yesterday were challenged to innovate around the idea of 'the connected car', building more than 20 different products in the 36 hours to improve the driver's experience.
Among the various parking apps and music streaming services, the stand out product for the news media came from Mydio, a personalised radio app drawing on data from Spotify, Der Spiegel and Axel Springer.
"In former times there was linear radio, like TV," said Michal Hernas, presenting the idea, "[but it would] only give you news or music with no control over what you wanted to listen to."
The solution was Mydio, a personalised radio service in which users could select the news topics they wanted to hear, connect their Spotify account and designate the music-to-news ratio to listen to on their journey.
Screenshot from the Mydio YouTube video
In the demonstration, Mydio sourced news articles from Der Spiegel and Axel Springer via the publishers' API, before text-to-speech software read the stories to the user.
"Theoretically the possibilities are limitless," said Bartosz Hernas, another team member, of the possible uses with other publishers, "because you can select what articles you wanted, the text you want and listen to the articles in the car."
Mydio won prizes from sponsors Aupeo, a company already working in personalised radio for music, and Axel Springer iPool, the publisher's open-source content hub, but fell short of winning any of the main prizes.
First prize in the hackday was awarded to gamification app Roadtracking, which awards points for responsible and ecological driving, while second prize went to Green Tyre, an advisory app to tell drivers what speed they should drive at to always reach traffic lights set to green. Retrosense, an integrated app and sensor for monitoring air pressure in tyres, won third prize.
Personalised audio services for mobile audiences are increasingly promoted as an improvement to radio, as broadcasters hope to reach commuters and those on the move with a more contextual service.
The concept was on show at Al Jazeera's first Canvas Hackathon in December, when multiple teams innovated around the idea.
Mydio video via Bartosz Hernas on YouTube.