Vancouver startup, Telus to plug cars into the Internet

Developers looking to take advantage of the Internet of Things have a new outlet in Canada with the word that Telus Corp. has partnered with a Vancouver startup to offer a connected car solution.

The carrier shortly launch a wireless car monitoring service with a cellular/GPS device from Mojio Inc. that plugs into a  onboard diagnostic port.  The port, built in cars made after 1996 and usually found in the passenger compartment in the driver’s side footwell, pulls data from the engine for mechanics.

The Mojio device will send it via the Internet to a smart phone, issuing alerts of potential mechanical or electrical problems. At the same time vehicle owners will be able t to locate, monitor and possibly diagnose their car. Initially messaging will only be available on iOS devices; Android is coming soon, a company spokesman said.

There are a number of after-market devices that do the same. But Telus [TSX: T] touts the Mojio as different because it is an open platform that allows software developers to create apps marketed through Mojio’s app store to add extra capabilities.

For example, apps under development will allow parking payments, automated trip expensing, links to home automation devices and make car rentals easier. Mojio’s software development kit is here. An HTML 5 app can be built in JavaScript to run in any browser.

For developers there’s a cloud-based vehicle simulator for testing the app without having to drive a car around.

Developers leverage the Mojio REST API for their apps. Most of the API calls require an AppID and Secret Key, which are generated for every new application that a developer creates, the company’s Web sit says. Applications are the first security layer for accessing the API, as it can’t be accessed outside of an application.

A cloud storage layer allows applications to store data that is application-specific, but related to a specific domain object. That way each object in the domain can have application-specific values stored in a secure manner. Other applications can’t access this data.

Mojio service will retail for $169, which incudes the first year of service. After that subscribers will pay $6.99 a month.

In addition to mechanical information, Mojio can display traffic-based route suggestions, turn-by-turn directions and nearby gas stations and parking lots. It can also be programmed to share vehicle location with others and send estimated arrival times.

Carriers are in a race to exploit the so-called Internet of Things because their wired and wireless networks will be the conduits for data collected by sensors. Bell Mobility was one of the first to announce an initiative, doing a trial in 2005 with a connected vending machine.  Rogers Communications followed up with a lure for developers.

Earlier this month Mojio said it has partnered with Seattle-based Glympse for its location notification information. It’s a free service that lets users send an alert with a map that lets selected people know you’re on your way.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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