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Smartphone telematics essentials #2: the telematics SDK to turn any mobile app into a mobility sensor

Anthony Corbeaux
By Anthony Corbeaux - 8/5/20 3:56 PM

How can any mobile application be turned into a driving analysis and driver coaching device? The answer lies in this acronym: SDK. Here is the second article in our series that aims to explain the most essential aspects of smartphone telematics and how a mobile telematics app works.

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Addressing the challenge of access to mobility data

 

The value of data for monitoring mobility and analysing road behaviour is well established. The introduction of telematics solutions that enable the collection of this data has become a major challenge for all professionals in the mobility ecosystem. They are essential for understanding driver behaviour, making better business decisions, and offering the most relevant services. However, there are currently too few vehicles that are natively equipped with onboard telematics devices (dongles). These must then be purchased and installed by third parties in vehicles, at a significant cost when it comes to equipping a fleet.

And yet today, the large majority of both private and business vehicles are equipped with a smartphone owned by the driver. These devices embark powerful sensors such as GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope. And during a trip, the movement of the smartphone is fully synchronized with that of the vehicle and its driver. This is why players like DriveQuant have emerged on the international telematics scene to offer universal data collection and analysis systems based essentially on the driver's mobile phone: this is called smartphone telematics.

 

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The telematics SDK to transform the smartphone into a universal telematics device

 

As described in our previous article, smartphone telematics makes it possible to connect all vehicles, without exception. To do this, drivers must install a mobile telematics app on their phones. Professionals who wish to equip themselves with such a solution have the choice between purchasing a (turnkey) white-label mobile app or integrating a telematics SDK into an existing app. We will focus here on this second option.

 

What is an SDK?

 

The acronym SDK, Software Development Kit, refers to a set of tools for the developement of software, games, applications on a given device and/or operating system. The mobile SDK thus relates to a kit that facilitates the development or enrichment of a mobile application without having to redevelop all its functionalities. The use of such a kit can save several weeks or even months of development time, depending on the complexity of the integrated features.

A mobile SDK is composed of various plug-and-play code files (modules) to allow developers to leverage the phone's native functions (GPS, Bluetooth, camera, etc.). It also offers graphical components and widgets to draw inspiration from existing interfaces and screens. Finally, the mobile SDK is usually supported by documentation to explain how it works, and sometimes by calls to third-party services in the form of APIs.

 

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The benefits of the SDK in telematics

 

In the field of telematics, the SDK makes it possible to transform any existing mobile application into a tool for driving analysis and driver coaching. By using a telematics SDK, it becomes possible to take full advantage of the expertise and technical know-how of the telematics provider who designed it while creating a telematics solution of one's own. Whether it is collecting mobility data, assessing driver behaviour, detecting trips, or distracted driving, the SDK gets the job done. It avoids complex technical hurdles that have already been overcome.

 

Significant savings and reliable data

The telematics SDK is usually invoiced with a one-time integration fee and then via the payment of a monthly subscription per user for its operation. Smartphone telematics is then more cost-effective than traditional telematics. Indeed, mobility professionals do not have to worry about installation, maintenance, replacement, and other costs associated with hardware. In addition, smartphones are more technically advanced devices capable of collecting data at higher frequencies and transmitting it instantaneously to create quality services.

 

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Leverage a single mobile application

While it is possible to acquire a mobile telematics white-label application to start leveraging the data potential of smartphones, the integration of a telematics SDK offers the advantage of not having to publish a new application on the stores. Indeed, this technology can be integrated into any existing application, regardless of the operating system (iOS or Android). The user does not see any change, a simple update of the application already installed on the smartphone is necessary to benefit from these new features.

 

An evolutive technology and a large choice of features

Another significant advantage of the telematics SDK is that it offers a wide range of features to enhance an existing application. Product and innovation managers can then choose the ones that are most relevant to meet their business objectives but also the needs of their users. In addition, new functionalities and innovations can be incremented over time through simple updates performed by developers. The SDK is therefore scalable, and the maintenance of its services is carried out by the telematics specialist.

 

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Easy-to-use functionalities & services

Mobile apps that embed a telematics SDK collect and analyse trips completely autonomously in the background. Indeed, most SDKs on the market include automatic trip detection modes, with no user action required. All this with a very low impact on smartphone battery consumption and mobile data.

 

Transparent access to data

Thanks to the telematics SDK, the collected data can be sent directly to third-party platforms and integrated into existing information flows. At DriveQuant, we also offer the possibility to send this data to our driver management and monitoring platform Léa.

 

DriveKit: the telematics SDK powered by DriveQuant

 

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At DriveQuant, we have worked hard over the past year to build our own telematics SDK: DriveKit. This is a universal library of driving analysis services that enables all project/product managers to quickly adopt services designed to help drivers improve their driving, reduce road risk, reduce the environmental footprint of mobility and optimise costs related to vehicle consumption and wear and tear.

 

DriveKit: an infinite number of use cases

 

DriveKit can be used by all the mobility ecosystem. Indeed, it includes several modules and APIs to deploy functionalities for assessing driving safety (safety score), measuring distracted driving (distraction score), estimating fuel consumption and eco-driving, coaching and monitoring drivers, animating communities via gamification features (driving challenges, badge collections) and for day-to-day vehicle maintenance and management (predictive maintenance, connected logbook). The use cases are infinite, here are a few examples below:

 


> Motor insurers: create usage-based insurance (UBI) products, in-app assistance services, reduce claims, segment drivers (profiling), engage policyholders with gamification, ...

> Fleet managers: prevent road accidents and raise employee awareness of good road safety and eco-driving practices, ...

> OEMs: build customer loyalty and communicate offers for the maintenance of their vehicles in partner networks, thanks to mobile apps that allow to track mileage and monitor wear and tear of vehicles, ...

> Driver training instructors: quickly deploy apps that serve as connected learning booklets and coaching devices for young drivers, ...

> Shared mobility service providers: manage drivers activity when they share the same vehicles, access real-time fleet mapping, or collect user feedback in a quality approach.

 

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Around the world, knowledge based on customer data, often summarised in the term big data, is being used to innovate. You don't have to be Uber, Airbnb, or Netflix to generate new revenue from this data. The Telematics SDK enables all automotive and mobility professionals to get the information they need to get ahead of the competition.

If you wish to test by yourself all the services included in the DriveKit SDK, we invite you to install our demo app DriveQuant:

Our demo app requires an access right that we will provide you free of charge. Please contact us to get your team name:

 

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