The Ford Hackathon at Techcrunch Disrupt (San Francisco, 2015) encouraged use of the Ford SmartDeviceLink (SDL) iOS SDK to talk to their in-car head units. The apps can be submitted to Ford for cars supporting Ford Sync. Toyota was present to lend support to this open source effort. With a joint open source effort the number of cars targetted by such apps could be higher.
The SDL SDK can be useful for insurance applications for measuring ride and driver quality. Many applications were built at the hackathon around this idea.
My team built an iOS application to synchronize brakes between two cars in real-time to prevent vehicle pileups in low visibility conditions. It alerted the driver that another car is braking ahead of his car, by acting as a virtual brake light that turns on if a connected car ahead is braking. Our goal was distraction-free safe driving, so it used voice commands to alert the driver and automatic brake detection from the SmartDeviceLink SDK, instead of manual alert generation.
A previous SDK supported by Ford was OpenXC, an open API for connected cars. Another popular SDK at the hackathon was Vin.li SDK.
There was discussion of a Waze like app that is built into cars. Talking to people I learnt of the role the Department of Transportation is playing to bring Intelligent Transportation to reality.
DSRC is a communication standard for such use cases – Dedicated Short Range Communications.