The screen in our cars is no longer used for just music and navigation. But if you want to run, use, or install any applications to your car, you are at the mercy of big tech like Apple and Google. The Israeli OVO Automotive wants to allow companies such as car importers and large fleet managers to enjoy various applications in their development, without the need to install anything on the screen in the car. They can be simply streamed from the cloud.
From the cloud to your car
Ovo has created a cloud platform that allows you to customize the vehicle's entertainment system, so that it can run any application directly from the cloud, regardless of the manufacturer or model of the vehicle. The importers and the companies that own the vehicle fleets can choose exactly which applications will run on their vehicles from an application store and how to customize the user interface to their needs or the needs of their customers.
The system created by the Israeli company allows applications to be streamed to the car's screen and is agnostic to the different car manufacturers or different operating systems - such as CarPlay or Android Auto. "The service is broadcasted to the vehicle via streaming; it is not installed in the vehicle's computer system. Thus, there are no safety risks associated with it or its drivers," says the company's CEO and one of the founders, Dr. Gilad Zlotkin in a conversation with Geektime. According to Zlotkin, it is much easier to secure the system they developed, which is cloud-based, compared to the security of infotainment systems that are installed directly on the hardware in the vehicle. He says that it is a problem for such systems developed by both companies and third parties.
OVO is developing an app store that allows service providers such as parking services, insurance, road services, charging for electric vehicles, and refuelling for gasoline vehicles to add their apps under commercial agreements like other app stores. "A vehicle fleet customer (for example, leasing, rental, or car sharing company) can essentially configure its own app store with a subset of the apps using OVO’s management tools in OVO's general store. Some of these applications can be pre-installed in all the vehicles in the fleet, if that is what the customer desires, so it won’t need to wait for the driver to install them," he added.
According to Zlotkin, OVO is the first to offer the possibility of streaming apps from the cloud to cars, rather than installing the apps directly on the car or mirroring apps from the devices to the car using CarPlay or Android Auto. The service will operate as a SaaS, with the car companies, importers, or fleet managers paying a monthly subscription for each vehicle that connects to the Ovo cloud platform.
We know that companies like Google and Apple invest a lot of resources in testing the applications that run in their ecosystems. Do you do any testing? Perhaps a car leasing company could embed spy components and sell the gathered information? Or ads or crypto mining components can be displayed?
"OVO also tests every app before it is approved to enter our app store, similar to the tests that Google and Apple do to approve apps into their app stores. In addition to security and privacy tests, OVO also checks issues of driving safety and driver distraction. For example, we will not allow Video, keyboard activation, and zoom operation on the screen while the vehicle is in motion."
A pilot program with one of the largest manufacturers in the world
Zlotkin, who previously sold two companies to Cisco and Alcatel, founded the company together with Arad Neve (Chairman) – a former partner of Benchmark Capital and Square Peg Capital and the CEO of the company purchased by Cisco; Alon Lelcuk (CTO); and Marc Girardot (CMO).
Zlotkin says that he and Girardot met a few years ago at Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, with the management of the electronics and software division of the giant automobile group: "We studied the needs and technological deficiencies, and we decided to establish OVO as a response to these needs." According to the company, it is now in a pilot with car manufacturers and Tier1 suppliers of infotainment products, commercial vehicle fleets, and car importers. In addition, says Zlotkin, OVO is also in a pilot with one of the world's leading car manufacturers.
Last week, the company also announces that it raised $3.5 million in a funding round that was led by Regah Ventures, with participation from Benchmark Capital and Michael van Swaaij, former CEO of Skype.