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Thursday September 21, 2017

NY Convergence ORIGINAL

BMWi: Where Cars, Walking, Movie Tickets and Smart Refrigerators Collide

Image representing ParkatmyHouse as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

By Lauren Keyson

iVentures, a part of BMWi, held its NY Future Mobility event Thursday evening to discuss how cars and mobility concepts are merging into one.  “We’re all about mobility and new ideas around that — and they don’t have to be apps, there are many mobility solutions,” said Kenn Sparks, BMW Group’s corporate communications manager. “Apps are the big thing right now because they’re integrating all of the different applications, whether it’s car, public transportation or foot. Parking is what everyone is really interested in right now.”

BMW is now steeped in new tech with its all-electric BMW i3 and its hybrid BMW i8, both of which were built with intelligent management systems. Funded with $100M, iVentures is the company’s real foray into investing capital into future mobility innovations.  So far the fund has only invested in two mobile concepts, the first being  ParkatmyHouse, which empowers everybody who has a potential parking space to find a way to make more money for themselves and more importantly to create far more availability in parking.

The second is MyCityWay, one of the new mega-utility tools that are taking the step towards integrating all the aspects of private and public transportation and walking in NY.  Its uses include finding a local Chinese restaurant, locating a wireless hotspot, buying tickets for a blockbuster, keeping tabs on apartment rentals and checking traffic feeds. But the ideas are streaming in for new ideas.

“We’re also coming up with crazy ideas like the self-drive car. This is where the apps begin to integrate with the car and take you where you want to go. They control your efficiency, your fuel and all of that,” added Sparks.

iVenture’s managing director, Ulrich Quay, explained their mobility thought processes, “We will launch the i3 next year for urban spaces. So then if you think of an electrical vehicle, the next concern would a charging station — would you charge it at home, on the street? And then we would have to consider parking as well so people can reserve a parking space by using their mobile phones.  Customers are demanding a better parking experience.”

Christian Noske, mobility services advisor, concurs, “Customers want more.  In parking for example, the technology is way behind and people don’t use the technology that is available.  There are a lot of companies out there offering easy payments that let you can seamlessly move into the parking garage with no barriers and the system will bill you automatically – all on the mobile phone.”

Panelist Matthias Hollwich, founder of Architizer, a social network for architects, talked about the beauty of mobility, “We can finally get rid of technology around us, because the phone becomes a translator between people, buildings and technologies.  For example, we don’t need to have a smart fridge as long as we have a smart phone that tells us what’s going on inside the fridge. I think that’s a great kind of change in terms of relationships.”

In another refrigerator-related conversation, iVentures is looking into a way to getting refrigerators to have interfaces that contact their back-end for information about cooking and shopping lists.

Other ideas of note included a cell phone game created by Stray Boots in which users get to experience the Big Apple from the convenience of their cell phone. “Now you can enjoy the experience of being out in the real physical world instead of sitting on a couch or on a subway and playing a mobile game on your phone,” explained co-founder and CEO Avi Millman.

Jalak Jobanputra, managing director of RTP Ventures, summed up the discussion, “People are now interacting with their phones. It’s become a wallet for many people around the world, an information gathering tool and a commerce engine – and we’re just in the very beginning stages. If you look at it from a worldwide phenomenon, there were so many regions of the world that were never connected before.”