Every now and again an app comes along boasting the potential to change the technological landscape, and with the ability to offer fewer distractions for drivers, the latest Carrio application from Ficonic Solutions could well be that app.
Carrio is an infotainment app powered by HERE, with the aim of making it easier and safer for drivers to navigate and manage other features when travelling. We've been talking to Timo Salminen, CEO at Ficonic, to find out what helps Carrio to stand out from the crowd.
"The purpose of Carrio in the long term is to become the world's best infotainment solution for drivers," Timo explains. In order to achieve its ambitious goal, Ficonic has set out to develop an app that's safer, that can eliminate distractions and that can help a driver when they're on the road.
"According to recent research, people think that drivers using smartphones when they drive is a serious problem, but on the other hand when you look at the individual analysis, most of the people using smartphones don't actually think it's dangerous when they're the ones doing it."
With people continuing to use smartphones when they're driving, it makes sense to develop an app that makes everything as simple as possible, and this is how Carrio came about.
"We wanted to improve safety and eliminate driver distractions caused by smartphone use when driving," says Timo. "We wanted to find ways to make it safer for drivers to access their digital content and services when driving, and we have a few things that we're doing to make it safer."
Carrio puts everything you need into one app, so you don't need to jump between different interfaces to access navigation, music or other features. Ficonic has also put a lot of effort into designing the interface for Carrio, introducing the ability to swipe or use oversized buttons, rather than attempting to fiddle with tiny touchscreen menus when you should be concentrating on the road, and using handwriting and voice recognition rather than touchscreen keyboards.
"Everything you need for driving is just a few swipes away," says Timo. "Whenever people need to enter text – a destination, for example – we're not actually using the virtual keyboard at all. We're using either handwriting recognition or voice recognition, and this, combined with simplifying the most common actions that people use when driving, is the key to reducing driver distractions."
Combining different features into one app is another part of what makes Carrio so easy to use, with Timo highlighting a recent journey as an example.
"When I was going to a meeting here in Finland, Carrio informed me that I was going to be a bit late. It was reading my calendar events, which had the location, and I already started navigation directly from the calendar event. So with a single tap I could start navigation, and thanks to the HERE SDK we got the estimated time of arrival, and with just a few swipes and taps I could send a message to the meeting organiser to let them know I was running late."
The result, according to tests carried out by the University of Jyväskylä, is an app that's an impressive 60% less distracting than other smartphone apps carrying out similar tasks.
"Reducing driver distractions is highly important to us," adds Timo, "although the app also needs to be convenient and provide better usability for the consumer. It seems we're doing OK in that area too, and after the distraction test, users were asked by the university which app they'd rather use, Carrio or the original application. 80% chose Carrio."
HERE is a key part of Carrio, providing the maps and data to help drivers navigate, and Ficonic chose to use HERE SDKs for a number of different reasons.
"Navigation is a must-have feature for an infotainment system," Timo explains, "and if you build something for the driver it must have maps and navigation capabilities. Based on our user research, traffic information is highly valued as well, and we noticed that the HERE SDK is really the best possible option."
"The HERE SDK is easy to work with to integrate as part of your own application, it allows you to customise the maps, to put your own location markers and HERE also offers seamless integration."
At present, Carrio is available across 13 European countries, including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria and Switzerland. More countries will be included in the next releases.