Abalta Weblink Makes Smartphone Integration Affordable

Abalta Weblink Makes Smartphone Integration Affordable

After a good decade and a half in-vehicle infotainment is still something of a mess. Practically every automaker has taken its own approach to implementing advanced connectivity technology. And just like freshly fallen snowflakes no two solutions are alike.

Abalta-WebLink-12.jpgOEMs, suppliers and third-party companies are battling for consumer mindshare as well as the precious real estate located front and center on every vehicle’s dashboard. Tech giants like Apple and Google are even getting in on the automotive action as the industry pushes to deliver more capable and easier-to-use electronics.

In spite of the big guys throwing their weight around there’s probably still room in the market for small companies. Abalta is one such firm and they’ve developed an affordable infotainment solution. Their technology is called Weblink and it taps into the computing capability of your smartphone to do some pretty interesting things.

PORTABLE POWERHOUSES

SmartphoneModern mobile devices are pretty amazing. These handheld gadgets essentially put the sum of all recorded human knowledge in your pocket. You can find out who led the Charge of the Light Brigade, locate a nearby place to get your car’s tires rotated or even play a game of chess with someone in Taiwan, all while riding the bus or eating a pulled-pork sandwich in the park; it’s incredible.

These “phones” are more powerful than full-blown desktop computers of just a decade ago, so why not put them to use? Michael O’Shea, president and CEO of Abalta Technologies, Inc. said, “the essential idea is that we’re leveraging the phone to drive the in-car experience.”

We’ve got a perfectly good browser in our pocket,” O’Shea added, “What if we used the phone to render the apps?” This is the core idea of Weblink. Applications run on the device and then are pushed to the in-car screen, which functions as little more than a display. Users can connect the two via a USB cable, WiFi or even Bluetooth.

Abalta’s technology allows essentially any HTML5 app to run in the phone’s browser. Additionally native iOS or Android applications and be used as well.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

To get started O’Shea said, “You have to launch an app – probably an OEM app with the Weblink component (in it),” though the system can be configured to start as soon as a phone is plugged into the car. “The connection is made with the head unit and away you go.”

Of course automakers or aftermarket companies can customize the look and feel of the user interface to suit their brand.

SEE ALSO: How New Cars Will Prevent Pedestrian Injuries

After Weblink is up and running you’re given access to vehicle-specific apps. No one should be allowed to read The New York Times while driving and fortunately this system doesn’t allow just anything to run; it’s not simply mirroring your smartphone’s interface. Apps are specially coded to be driver friendly and automatically scale to the dimensions of the vehicle’s display. “It can accommodate pretty much any screen (size),” said O’Shea, which is a major bonus.

Abalta-WebLink-09.jpg

In the case of HTML5 apps, they’re located in the cloud and run on your phone’s browser. The advantage of this is that the browser is more than likely up to date and compliant with the latest standards, something that’s rarely the case with in-car browsers.

Of course native applications can be coded to work with Weblink as well. Optimized versions of a handset’s built-in navigation system or streaming-music service for instance can be projected onto a car’s big display screen. The possibilities are almost endless.

Adding another feather to its flexibility cap, Weblink supports all of the major smartphone operating systems on the market today including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry 10.

Abalta-WebLink-10.jpgCOST-CONSCIOUS CUSTOMERS

Since the user’s phone does all of the heavy lifting, “We can keep the cost of the in-vehicle system really low” O’Shea said.

Abalta is targeting emerging markets with Weblink. O’Shea noted that systems costing OEMs as little as $150 are in the works.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Coolest Digital Gauge Clusters

Compared to some notable rivals O’Shea said their solution is better suited to value-priced vehicles, adding there’s “a pretty significant gap at the low end,” which is where they’re aiming to become a major player.

Aside from Weblink’s refreshing affordability the system should also provide ample performance for years to come. Compared to conventional infotainment systems, which are in service for literally the life of a vehicle, people typically replace their smartphones every two or three years, meaning they’ve always got the latest computing power in their pockets. Once a car or truck leaves the factory it’s extremely unlikely to ever receive any electronic hardware updates.

CHOOSE YOUR RELIGION

But what about the gorilla in the room, or rather gorillas? Apple is pushing its CarPlay system while Google is fielding Android Auto. These monolithic firms are finally starting a push into the automotive sphere.

Apple and Android LogoO’Shea doesn’t kid himself about this. He said, “I think there’s going to be lots of CarPlay and Android Auto,” adding, “Users are sort of infatuated with Apple and Google.”

Of course Abalta is much smaller than either of these tech giants; they’ve only been around for 11 years and currently have about 25 employees. But in spite of these odds O’Shea said, “There’s still a bit of white space for guys like me,” especially in emerging markets like China and Brazil where cost is king.

He likens Google and Apple to “cornflakes and Rice Crispies.” He said the future would be pretty boring if we only had two infotainment choices going forward.

The flexibility of Weblink along with its platform-neutral approach gives it advantages over systems offered by the big guys. According to O’Shea their technology is just “another path forward.”

Abalta-WebLink-11.jpg

Getting units into vehicles is critical, and fortunately for Abalta they’ve found some success in this area. O’Shea said, “There will be systems in the market by the end of this year,” though he can’t say if Weblink will launch with an automaker, supplier or aftermarket company. But stay tuned, it may be coming to a dashboard near you.

GALLERY: Abalta Weblink

Abalta-WebLink-01.JPGAbalta-WebLink-02.JPGAbalta-WebLink-03.JPGAbalta-WebLink-04.JPGAbalta-WebLink-05.JPGAbalta-WebLink-09.jpgAbalta-WebLink-11.jpg

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked