Ford Developer Blog

Plan to make it to MakeItDriveable Lisbon 2019!

Posted on Monday, August 19, 2019 by Ford Partner Relations

What a July!

In just three weeks on the MakeItDriveable City Tour 2019, we visited Porto, Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Zurich, Paris and Amsterdam. We’re starting to feel like the Rolling Stones!

And although we didn’t actually perform for millions, it certainly felt like it. All told, we met more than 100 startups at City Tour events and reviewed 35 pitches to the Ford team. It was a spectacular success by any definition.

But we’ve never been “rest on our laurels” types, so even though the City Tour has just concluded, we’re already looking ahead to the main event…

The MakeItDriveable Challenge in Lisbon, 25–26 September 2019.

And if you’ve been thinking about “getting in the car” with an idea for the Connected Car or an iOS/Android application, you really should consider applying to secure a spot.

Now in its fifth year, MakeItDriveable is an opportunity to engage directly with Ford and potentially fast track your idea to market.

If your submission is accepted, you’ll have a chance to meet Ford executives, engineers and business teams, as well as other invited guests.

We’re looking this year specifically for ideas that are “Beamed In”—delivered directly to vehicles via the embedded modem—or “Brought In” to the vehicle via a customer’s smartphone and SmartDeviceLink (SDL).

Who should apply? Great question.

If you’re interested in enhancing driver’s lives through remote services, the Beamed In challenge is for you. More and more new Ford vehicles are now connected via embedded modem and (with customers’ consent) will have the capability to deliver a range of cutting-edge services. If you have an idea that could enhance vehicle intelligence capabilities and services, we want to hear them.

On the other hand, if you have an iOS/Android-based app and would like to deliver in-vehicle experiences directly to the driver via SYNC®3, consider applying for the Brought In challenge powered by SDL.

Either way, we want to make sure you get value by participating—which is why we’re pulling out all the stops to make the Challenge the easiest way for you to fast-track your opportunity to work with Ford.

Plus, Challenge winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend Ford Demo Days in either Dearborn (US), Palo Alto (US) or London (UK), and an all-expenses-paid trip to attend Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona.

MakeItDriveable is an invitation-only event. If your submission is accepted, you’ll have access to a multitude of resources, including pre-challenge workshops on Slack, dedicated mentors, presentations to on-site focus groups, and more. This year, we’re also adding several workshop sessions that will occur throughout the day.

Interested? Learn more on the MakeItDriveable website. Or, for more information about AppLink & SDL, visit and

FordDev is 2 for 2 in sponsoring successful SDL Developer Conferences

Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

As the SDLC and its open-source connectivity platform approaches its 2nd anniversary, the FordDev team, along with its consortium partners, recently wrapped up their second annual SDL Developer Conference in Los Angeles, which was held from 11th to the 14th of September. SDLC members, prospective adopters, and developers who of course make it all possible, all descended on sunny downtown LA to debate and discuss the exciting future of the platform.

Attendees at this year’s Mobile World Congress Americas had a number of opportunities to interact with contributors from all aspects of the SDL ecosystem, discuss opportunities around the platform, and explore ways in which they can get involved.

The FordDev Make It Driveable Challenge LA kicked off the festivities. Following hot on the heels of the Tel Aviv Challenge held in Israel the previous week, meant the FordDev team engines had to be firing on all cylinders! Two successful Challenges later, and they find themselves with a ton of new innovative services and ideas introduced by the participants on both sides of the globe, with some very happy developers who won prizes for their hard work. Check out the Tel Aviv and LA Make It Driveable pages for Challenge results and event summaries.

With a packed agenda of expert speakers and thought leaders day two promised a wealth of information about the future of the connected car, where in-vehicle content will change as the industry approaches the autonomous world. Topics ranged from the legal considerations of working with the open-source platform to responsible data relationships, and thoughts on monetization within the SDL ecosystem.

Doug VanDagens, Global Director, Connected Services Solutions at Ford, opened the conference with a snapshot of the SDLC growth to date. He illustrated how the platform provides so many compelling reasons for anyone-and-everyone to join the ecosystem and benefit from contributing to a true open-source initiative, poised to deliver near and continued benefits. Doug has been the chairman of the SDLC board of directors since it was formed back 2016 and was instrumental in all of its early successes. He has announced that he is retiring from Ford, so we thank him for his work and wish him the best of luck!

view the accompanying pdf presentation

The SDLC has over 40 members from all areas within the automotive world. Real-life competitors sit side by side, setting aside competitive differences in an effort to nurture a successful ecosystem that will benefit all contributors. This isn’t always an easy path and there are many questions prospective members have prior to and even after joining the SDLC. John LeRoy of Brooks Kushman P.C. has been answering many of these questions for our members as the IP Counsel for the SDLC, so he was the perfect person to share a great overview of what it means to join the SDLC.

view the accompanying pdf presentation

John addressed subjects such as patents and trademarks, their use and guidelines. Of particular interest to the crowd was his explanations of copyrights and the impact of open-source contribution to intellectual property rights. An extremely informative session for prospective members in attendance.

The data age has reached the automotive industry and the timing coincides with a plethora of new and changing requirements for data capture, storage, and transmission. Bruce Gustafson, CEO of the Developers Alliance, advocates on behalf of developers and helps provide a voice for the tech industry in the governmental institutes in the US and Europe. Bruce joined us on stage to explain how all of the various members of the SDL ecosystem are impacted by legislation being introduced today and in the future. As technology evolves faster and faster, the lawmakers around the world will need input from our tech sectors to understand the actual impact their decisions can make on people’s lives.

view the accompanying pdf presentation

After the Make It Driveable Challengers competed on stage, the audience avoided an after-lunch-food-coma by participating in real-time voting, Michael Rasalan, the Director of Research at Evans Data Corp laid out their finding on developer sentiment towards the automotive industry, platforms, and resources gleaned from their in-depth global developer research. Takeaways from Michael’s presentation included addressing the fact that developers are working on the connected car right now and not waiting for future technology. Developers need a community to support their efforts, and if the SDLC wishes to grow, embracing developers is one of the keys to success.

View the accompanying pdf presentation.

The automotive and radio industries have a very long and rich history (i.e. they’re both old!) that is in the midst of a radical transformation. John Ellis, of Ellis and Associates, one of the founding fathers of SDL, currently works very closely with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) giving him a unique perspective on the subject of content consumption today and how it may evolve as the in-vehicle experience becomes more and more similar to the living room.

John conducted an informative discussion with an expert panel which included;

  • Michele Lavin of iHeartMedia
  • Stephanie Bauer Marshall of M3 Advisors
  • Richard Smith of OpenPath Products

The group had a candid conversation about the role that broadcasters have had in the automotive industry and how NAB constituents from both the radio and the television broadcasting world need to address how all content will live in the vehicle. The transforming role of technology, and how the two industries have historically not been first to adopt new technolgy, was a topic that illustrated the huge opportunity SDL presents. By working together and leveraging the advantages currently in place, the SDL ecosystem can prove to be an early tech-creator enabling opportunity and content monetization.

Livio is the project maintainer for the SDL platform. Paul Elsila, CEO of Livio, detailed a number of milestones achieved on the platform over the past year, including Projection Mode for navigation and the launch of Waze as an SDL enabled application. Paul also showed off highlights of the consortium such as breaking through 40 members and the launch of the Toyota’s first SDL enabled solution this past July!

view the accompanying pdf presentation

Scott Burnell from the FordDev team wrapped up the day with a session outlining both external challenges to SDL success and the plethora of monetization opportunities the platform presents to all of the various ecosystem members. Illustrating the rapid expanse of competitor ecosystems in Silicon Valley and China, Burnell implored the audience to learn from the lessons learned in recent history at mobile operators, handset makers, and the music industry, as these ecosystems expanded and inhaled the opportunities they once owned.

view the accompanying pdf presentation

His final message included visual examples of the unique SDL advantages such as access to vehicle data and how developers and OEMs alike benefit by working together to create enhanced features and compelling in-vehicle environments.

Make It Driveable Challenge: Los Angeles, 2018

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

Scott Burnell of the FordDev Team gives us a behind-the-scenes report from the Make It Driveable Challenge LA, which was hosted during Mobile World Congress Americas, 11-14 September.

In the sporting world, a ‘back-to-back’ is known as a celebration. In the past 30 years we have seen the Pistons win back-to-back championships. We have seen the Red Wings do it too. And the Lions? Well, we know they have won back-to-back games at some point. The FordDev Team pulled off its own back-to-back feats this month hosting two Make It Driveable Challenges in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles.

First up was the MID Challenge Tel Aviv (visit – you can read our story on the Tel Aviv event here) which was held on September 3-4 and following fast on its heels was the MID Challenge LA, which took place at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Challenge was held as part of the 2nd Annual SDL Developer Conference during Mobile World Congress Americas that included a day-long learning conference, demos of AppLink and other SDL-enabled solutions on the MWCA exhibit floor.

Set in the iconic Ace Hotel, the Challenge drew upon the rich history of innovation that envelops the downtown LA scene. This is where early movie moguls first brought entertainment ideas to the masses, a perfect setting for the second-floor space that was filled with eager developers as Ford’s Kevin Burdette delivered his SDL Masterclass Session, the first introduction to in-vehicle development that some of the challengers had ever seen.

Previously formed teams and on-site collaborations participated in the challenge, and once they found their rhythm, ideas started to flow. Cocktails and appetizers provided by NAB Pilot provided a welcomed breather (and a little more inspiration!) to the Challengers. Then it was back to the task at hand: coding and testing assumptions against the emulators and the TDKs that were scattered around the room.

The rubber really hit the road during the last 12 hours of the hackathon, with alternating periods of deep silence and electric buzz. At some intense moments in the room, the brave teams were huddled around their laptops, deep in concentration, writing code, designing in-vehicle HMIs, or simply gazing out the window in a trance-like state due to lack of sleep. Other Challengers were bouncing ideas off each other, pausing only to enjoy the Intelematics midnight snack offerings, or seeing how many SDL fidget spinners one really can stack on top of another!

Finally, after many long hours hunched over laptops came the time to present the fruits of their labor. Participants were invited to show off their hard work and innovative ideas on stage during the SDL Conference the following day. Each team had 5 minutes to deliver their problem-statement and their SDL solution to an audience of over 150 people. They were given a presentation template and encouraged to produce a creative delivery using video, emulators and in-vehicle screenshots. All eleven teams did just that!

As someone who has seen many (and I mean many!) Challenge presentations, I can say that this group really impressed. It’s not always easy to jump on stage in front of hundreds of people and show off a product that isn’t fully polished and ready for consumption. Letting others peek behind the curtain can be nerve-wracking, but all of these teams came through with shining colors. All of our Challengers should be very proud of their presentations.

Not only did the conference audience get to watch the Challenge presentation, they also got involved. In another first for the SDL Conference, this year the audience got to vote on each entry in real-time. The audience score was added to the judges score, and then, the combined total decided the winners. It was a great way to see so many different points of view come together in creating a great buzz between the Challengers and the audience.

Once the votes were tallied, not once, but twice (just to make sure!), the top 3 teams in the Los Angeles Make It Driveable Challenge were:


Grand Prize - $5000


Winner - Tribal Scale


This app uses vehicle data such as GPS and cameras, to geofence a vehicle as an owner is driving through the city. Images of the surroundings are fed in to an AI engine which can then return the locations and events associated to the locations to offer drivers info on what is physically around them (museums, historical markers, points of interest, etc.) and what events they may be interested in attending (ball games, plays).


Second Place - Surface Pro Laptops & Keyboard Covers


Winner - CarPay


Securing parking spots, paying tolls, even fuel, everything in the smart car will need to be paid for. With CarPay, owners can set up an account once and apply payments all over town while going through their normal day.


Third Place - Tickets to the iHeartRadio Theater to See Choice of Artist


Winner - NAB Pilot


Accessing the broadcast radio tuner in an SDL-enabled vehicle opens up a whole new world of features and capabilities. The team showed us how a driver can enjoy their favorite radio station even as they travel outside of the broadcast signal area as an app running in the background that seamlessly switches from over the air, to internet broadcast without the driver having to do a thing. Other features included; a simple search for stations of a favorite genre while driving in an unfamiliar city without having to press the seek button continuously, and the ability for broadcasters to show contextual ads.

Fleet Fuel Management Solution and Touch Based Infotainment System Named the Winners of the 2018 Make It Driveable Challenge Tel Aviv

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, September 5, 2018

Ford Motor Company today announced JiFleet Virtual Fuel Management Solution for Fleets, and Inpris – the company behind Sightless Touch, a user-friendly distraction-free interface for operating infotainment systems as the winners of the fourth annual Make it Driveable Challenge Tel Aviv.

The event took place during the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival this week, which draws hundreds of high-tech companies, investors and international corporations together. The Challenge attracted more than 140 developers and service providers, with 23 teams from Israel and Europe participating in the two-day challenge earlier this week.

Each team was given an opportunity to meet with mentors consisting of Ford senior executives from Mobility, Data Digital Services, Connected Vehicle Platform and Credit, Bloomberg journalist and Ford partners.

Ford also invited a group of real customers, consisting of millennials and generation X’ers to provide feedback on each of the applications. “We really provided something unique at our Ford Make It Driveable Challenge this year. Interacting with the focus group at such an early stage will reduce time wasted in the market testing process and will help verify usability and scalability of the applications,” said Scott Lyons, Business & Partner Development, Connected Vehicle Platform and Products, Ford of Europe.

A panel of judges comprised of Ford team members, Waze and distinguished guests named JiFleet and Inpris the winners of the 2018 Make it Driveable Challenge.

JiFleet was founded in 2016 and its winning platform provides a card-less white label payment method for fuel for fleets, integrated with fleet management platforms. JiFleet provides an end-to-end solution for fleet managers; identifying the driver, vehicle and even recommending the optimal fuel load to carry. Sharing the top prize, Inpris, the touch based infotainment systems solutions provider, presented an innovative HMI that enables superior infotainment control and driver awareness, all while allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

“The creativity level I have seen over the past couple days is sky high. The Israeli ecosystem has once again proved to be fruitful and very advanced, both in the tech world but also in the automotive world. The wide-ranging topics discussed and presented, by various Israeli and European start-ups are the best proof of the diversity of the automotive industry and the constant progress it is making,” said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle Platform and Products.

Two other participating companies gained awards during the Challenge: fleet management platform Bit Logistech and Mappo, a platform designed to connect content with locations – were named as worthy winners.

The Challenge gave mobile app developers and digital service companies access to Ford’s own development team, allowing them to work with AppLink on SYNC® 3 to create new ways for customers to stay connected while on the go. With access to over 15 million AppLink enabled vehicles worldwide, the Make It Driveable challenge is an incredible opportunity for developers and service providers to attract a whole new audience and revenue stream by ‘Getting In The Car’ with Ford.


FordDev Team heads to LA for the 2nd Annual SDL Developer Conference

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

All sights are set on LA this September as Ford presents the 2nd SDL Conference during Mobile World Congress Americas. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, this year’s conference is an even more ambitious 3-day event featuring a hackathon, conference and exhibit.

Developers will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from SDL members such as Ford, Toyota and Xevo. This is an ideal opportunity to join leading automakers, connected car suppliers, and fellow developers to learn how you can be part of the rapidly evolving connected car landscape.

The next great ideas for connected car content will come from the community of SDL developers. Connected cars are not part of the future, they’re already here!

Ahead of the event we caught up with Scott Burnell (Ford Global Lead/Business Development and Partner Management) to hear what he had to say about this year’s conference.

What is taking place in LA?

“This year, the SDLC (Smart Device Link Consortium) will hold their 2nd SDL Developer Conference, which includes a hackathon with a first prize worth $5,000, an exhibit and a full-day conference. The entire FordDev Team is really excited to be presenting this year’s conference, and from the looks of the early interest we should see attendance surpass that of last year! ”

What can attendees expect from the SDL hack, conference and exhibit?

“There’s really a huge amount going on for both OEMs and developers who are interested in working with SDL.”

“We will have sessions aimed at the current SDL developer environment and developer sentiment towards the automotive industry. We will also cover topics that impact everyone, such as data relationships and responsibilities for , including the recent GDPR launch and the State of California legislation.

We will also explore what it means to adopt SDL and the way in which we work within the Open Source space and discuss questions around intellectual property.”

What direction do you think the SDL project will take over the next few years?

“That’s a good question, and one we will be covering at the conference. One of our sessions will be on the growing need for automotive specific environments like SDL versus third-party solutions that may come from Silicon Valley or other areas, that look to encroach on an OEM’s capability to own their branding and monetization opportunities, as the industry moves from a hardware-producing industry to a mobility content and services industry.”

Will developers and OEMs be able to get their hands dirty at the conference?

“Yes, absolutely. We encourage anyone and everyone who has an interest in the connected car space to come and have a play with the technology. We will be showcasing SDL integrations from some of our members along with a number of SDL enabled applications and content throughout the Mobile Congress Americas exhibition space from September 12-14. Attendees can get to see apps such as WebEx, AccuWeather or Waze running on multiple OEM head-units, showing the ease of integration of SDL and how it is applied across different vehicle screens.”

Any final words?

“Yes, if you are thinking of coming along please visit to register, spaces are limited and are filling up fast. We look forward to seeing you there.”

The second annual SDL Developer Conference, Hackathon, and Exhibition will take place during MWC Americas

Los Angeles, California, September 11-14, 2018.

Conference Information


Date/Time: 10am Tuesday, Sept 11 to 8am Wednesday, Sept 12

Location: ACE Hotel Downtown LA , 929 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015 (map)


Date/Time: During MWC Americas, Wednesday, Sept 12, 9am-5pm
Location: LA Convention Center, Level 2, Theater C, 1201 S Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015 (map)


Date/Time: MWC Americas, September 12-14, 2018

Location: LA Convention Center, Booth S.2736, South Hall, 1201 S Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015 (map)

Please visit to register.

About the SDL Developer Conference

The 2018 SDL Developer Conference, Hackathon, & Exhibit is produced by The SmartDeviceLink Consortium (SDLC), a collaborative effort supporting the adoption of the SDL open source platform which allows automakers control of branding and monetization of connected vehicle experience. SDL provides app developers with a unique opportunity to integrate content in millions of vehicles and connect with consumers in new and exciting ways.

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