Published On: Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017

Drivemode raises $6.5M from Panasonic and others for smartphone automobile tech


If you’re an Android device owners and also a driver, we might already be informed with Drivemode: It’s one of a many renouned apps for use in cars on Google Play, with over one million app downloads and active users widespread opposite 180 countries. The app is designed to revoke distractions for drives around an eyes-free interface designed to entrance smartphone functions like navigation messaging, calls and some-more wholly around voice.

Drivemode usually lifted $6.5 million in a new Series A round, led by Panasonic, that among a many talents, is also one of a largest automotive attention suppliers in a world. Panasonic is a vital investor, and others enclosed in a turn embody word provider Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance around a VC arm, as good as Innovative Venture Fund Investment and Miyako Capital. The inlet and source of the funding suggests Drivemode has ambitions good over a existent consumer app. Founder and CEO Yo Koga confirms a association is focused on building out additional facilities for a app by a new partnership with Panasonic, though that it also has other ambitions in a works as well.

“Obviously, Panasonic wants to implement a recognition as a pushing app when operative with automakers,” Koga explained. “So what we’re operative on now is integrating their infotainment systems with a consumer app so that we can work with hardware products like arrangement audio or simple audio, consumers have a lot some-more to users around a consumer app. At a same time, a lot of automakers are also meddlesome in white tag things as well, so that we’re operative on separately, as well.”

Companies seem fervent to partner with Drivemode; Koga says there’s a large reserve of understanding tube it could pursue, though with a group of usually 8 people most of that has been on hold. What, then, is interlude other companies from stepping adult and stuffing a approach possibly internally or around swap partners? Google’s possess Android Auto app on a Play Store enjoys worse reviews than Drivemode, for starters, that is a good indicator that Koga’s right when he points out how tough it is to make an app that does what Drivemode can do, and do it well.

“Drivemode is an intensely technical app,” he said. “A lot of automotive companies try to replicate what we’re doing, and a lot of hardware companies try to do this, too. Hardware companies, for example, can have illusory hardware, though reckoning out a hardware knowledge is a toughest part. Even simply responding incoming Facebook messages by voice is super technical, and not many can do it, during slightest with a right interface.”

Drivemode has been operative on a problem with tangible user feedback given a app initial launched in beta in 2014, and continues to iterate on a voice-based communication model. It’s also in unchanging hit with a National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Koga says they see eye-to-eye with a sovereign physique on where in-car use of inclination and services are headed in terms of maximizing safety.

Meanwhile, he argues their value to intensity automaker and supply-side partners will usually grow, given a instruction in that a attention is headed.

“What’s going on in a automotive attention is that program will be pivotal from now on,” Koga explained. “The problem with that is that automakers and suppliers don’t have approach entrance to a users, that is because they’re perplexing to come adult with new standards like SDL [SmartDeviceLink] and others to figure out ways to bond with users. Getting data, and afterwards liberating a data, in a automotive attention will be a pivotal regard for [automakers].”

Drivemode’s free, in-app squeeze upheld indication means it already has one of a largest implement bases of any third-party program for use on smartphones in cars, that is firm to seductiveness carmakers. Its operation of facilities meant it can also exhibit a lot about user habits, providing most some-more discernment about patron function than carmakers other than tech-centric players like Tesla can generally design to receive.

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