The L.A. Auto Show kicked off Tuesday with a press-only Connected Car Expo, a showcase for the technologies that are transforming the automobile into a device that knows everything. Entrepreneurs even had a special competition, pitching their big ideas to a panel of judges. (The show opens to the public on Friday.)
The ideas included an app called RodeDog that barks at smartphone users if they try to unlock their phone while driving. Another device deploys a flare when it senses a car has been in an accident. Green Driver's Enlighten app will tell a driver how long a traffic light will stay red ... and then there's the ClearPath navigation system.
Three years of traffic data bundled in one app
"You’re all from L.A. so you suffered from traffic, I guess, just getting here," said Clear Path’s developer Cyrus Shahabi at the start of his three-minute pitch. His app maps out the fastest drive between two points, based on rapidly changing traffic data.
Shahabi also teaches computer science at USC and has taken three years of data from traffic sensors throughout LA County to develop the app’s models, which he told the judges "actually can predict the traffic behavior, not just during the normal condition, like rush hours, but also in the case of accidents and events like a USC-UCLA football game."
The competition's judges included Christy Wilson, vice president of Product Operations at big data management firm Splunk, which sponsored the competition; Linda Senigaglia, NeverLost Senior Director of Product Marketing for Hertz; Martin Price, Co-Founder of Productsy; and Philip Potloff, Executive Vice President and CIO at Edmunds.com.
Potloff says a good idea has three components: desirability, feasibility and viability.
"Do people want the product, can you actually build it, and is there a market for it?" Potloff said.
He was concerned that the market might already be too crowded with navigation systems for Clear Path to find its way. Shahabi addressed that concern in the last line of his pitch:
"We want to do to navigation what Google did to search: make money, and do it more accurately."
The winner of the fast pitch event is announced
By the end of the afternoon, the winner of the Connected Car Expo's fast pitch event was announced: A company called Estify, based in Oak Park.
The company described its product idea as a way to "streamline the auto collision industry with the use of cloud-based services. The proposed system uses three platforms to simplify the collision repair process. EstifyTransfer imports estimate data into the current estimating platforms, EstifyReconcile combines multiple estimates in a split second, and EstifyParts electronically sends parts lists to many providers simultaneously, ensuring competitive pricing for shops and convenience for users."
As for Shahabi and his ClearPath app? He says the competition and its ties to the L.A. Auto Show have already gotten his idea plenty of exposure.
The LA Auto Show will be open to the general public from Nov. 22-Dec. 1.