We all remember driving our sports cars on Continental tires. Did you know the same company now has plans for Android in the automotive industry? Yes, they are designing an application called AutoLinQ, which is a flexible automotive-grade hardware and software platform. With Continental?s AutoLinQ solution, drivers and passengers will be "Always On" and able to connect to what matters in their life.

AutoLinQ is an open architecture capable of leveraging the Android Market Place, as well as other Internet ecosystems. Yes, you’ve read that correctly – Continental will bring apps to cars. Unlike some competitors that started announcing "apps on wheels" ever since iPhone came to market, Continental is making a significant investment in order to make that happen. While on the road, vehicle occupants will be able to access real-time location-based information and content that is relevant to the driving situation. Sounds like Android-powered navigation systems doesn’t it.

Vehicle owners can ask questions or send commands from their mobile phone to their vehicle, including options like checking the status or location of a vehicle. While at home, vehicle owners can access real-time vehicle status or remote diagnostic information from an account on their laptop. [Wouldn’t my father have loved to do that with my two year old 1955 Austin-Healey Le Mans roadster. I would have been "busted" for sure?]

At CES 2010, Continental enlisted the cooperation of Ford Trucks and DeWalt tools to show off AutoLinQ which is why we have a photo of the bright yellow Ford F-450 quad cab truck with all those nifty DeWalt tools in back. There is a small server with wireless communication and AutoLinQ’s Android-based application installed. It is sending and receiving real-time information to the truck’s driver and passengers.

Ford F-450 showcases Continental's technology and DeWalt tools
Ford F-450 showcases Continental’s technology and DeWalt tools

Recent forecasts from analyst firm Gartner say Android is expected to power 18 percent of all smartphones sold globally in 2012 ? addressing approximately 94 million users. This is up from a share of less than 2 percent of all smartphones sold in 2009. The development community, which has designed approximately 20,000 applications so far, also is expected to grow with the market.

The AutoLinQ SDK, which Continental expects will be available very soon, consists of API documentation, a Vehicle Simulator, a Vehicle Emulator, and the HMI design guide. One example being developed with their SDK is an application that will help drivers locate nearby gas stations and identify those with the cheapest gas price. The application is automatically triggered by the vehicle when fuel runs low. Another partner is working to create location-based social networking applications that can safely be used in the vehicle.

Continental has been collaborating with Navteq, the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data, to bring automotive grade content and Navteq-based applications to AutoLinQ. The Navteq Network for Developers provides a variety of valuable resources to developers for application development. BSN* will show you more about Navteq in an upcoming article.

Kieran O?Sullivan, VP of Continental?s Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit, said: "With AutoLinQ, automakers will be able to offer vehicle owners an array of new features and functions, through downloadable applications, months after the car has left the dealership lot."

Ford F-450 from the front...
Ford F-450 from the front… DeWalt outside, Continental IT technology inside

We expect the 2011 European high-end cars will come equipped with AutoLinQ, so your iPhone can check on where the kids are driving that expensive automobile.