Do you want to prove to your insurance company that you are a good driver, and deserve a lower rate? Now, there's a way to do it. On Wednesday at CES 2017, Ford announced a new app, DriverScore, available via Ford SYNC AppLink, that tracks driving behavior. The data can then be passed on to insurance companies, which can offer better rates for good driving.
Over the last couple of years, auto insurance companies have been toying with similar strategies, sometimes adding on devices to vehicles to collect driving data.
"What I saw with AppLink was the opportunity to utilize an app, instead of having an extra piece of hardware the customer would have to put on the vehicle," Dave Hatton, Ford global manager of mobile applications and emergency services, told TechRepublic. "One efficient way of doing that is letting people download an app to sync and send specific vehicle data." He said he thinks that down the road, Ford can eliminate third party devices altogether.
In order to determine driving behavior, DriverScore, developed by IVOX, uses algorithms to interpret data from the vehicle. While this technology is likely to be used in future vehicles from other companies, Ford is the first to use it in its SYNC 3-equipped vehicles. The tool is also connected to phones that are connected to the vehicle specifically, which means that a younger driver using their parent's car won't negatively impact the ratings of the adult.
"AppLink has a set of data that app developers can utilize to make driver-friendly apps," said Hatton. That data includes speed, acceleration, braking, location, time of day, and other variables. "Basically, external local data for traffic analysis," he said.
Hypothetically, driving behavior could be determined by looking at how a driver performs in highly accident-prone intersections, Hatton said "The more data they get, the more they'll be able to fine tune their algorithms over time," Hatton said. Drivers then will receive a daily score based on their behavior. The first score comes after 50 miles. Then, via the the app's DiscountZone feature, data can be shared with insurance carriers, which can offer personalized quotes based on driving behavior.
The app can also be turned on or off. "Ford is very protective of users' data, and we want them to be able to opt in when their data's being shared with another third party," Hatton said. "The user will have to download the app, acknowledge that they want to try this feature out and get the benefits from it. Then when they connect the app to the vehicle for the first time, they're prompted inside the vehicle of the data elements that would be sent across to IVOX for the purpose of driver's scores," he said, which they must also opt into. "Later in the process, you can turn off, individually, certain data elements that get sent in the settings for AppLink."
Currently, the app is only compatible with Sync 3 vehicles. Moving forward, Hatton said that Sync 3 will be rolled out across the whole Ford lineup.
"If people start seeing tangible dollars saving in their pocket, they're really going to appreciate Ford's capabilities for providing that type of tool," he said.
The app is currently in its final phase of validation, and is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2017.
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Hope Reese has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Hope Reese is a journalist in Louisville, KY. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Playboy, Undark Magazine, VICE, Vox, and other publications.