Ford Invests In 3 Startups: Push Notifications, In-Car Retail, Social Media

Connected cars may see in-car retail experiences, social media-driven navigation and emergency vehicle notification integration, thanks to investment and collaborative support from Ford.

The automaker plans to collaborate with three of the winning Techstars Mobility startups in what might help define the capabilities of connected cars in the future.

One of the startups called Spatial aims to bring social intelligence into the connected media capabilities of cars. The idea is to create interactive navigation and mapping systems in vehicles based on aggregated social media data, according to Ford.

Techstars Mobility, which is sponsored by Ford in an effort to ‘enhance next-generation mobility solutions,’ awarded 12 different startups $120,000 in funding, in addition to 3-month mentorships and guidance by auto industry leaders.

On the connected safety features front, HAAS Alert aims to build a platform to push notifications to drivers when emergency vehicles are approaching. The collaboration has enabled HASS Alert to launch a pilot program in Detroit.

“Working with Ford gives us access to critical automotive applications and allows us to use our data to assist in the connected car and autonomous vehicle space for communication in mobility,” Cory Hohs, CEO and co-founder of HAAS said in a statement.

The third startup Ford is collaborating with is targeting the ridesharing segment of the market.

Cargo sells ‘cargo kits’ of snacks and other products commonly found in convenience stores directly to drivers of ridesharing services. Those products are then sold to passengers in a pseudo-retail experience in the car, according to Ford.

Ford is not the only automaker to be exploring and investing in future car scenarios.

Earlier this year, General Motors said it was investing $500 million in ride-sharing service Lyft, followed by the purchase of self-driving car startup Cruise Automation.

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