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Volkswagen is taking a page from the Apple playbook by inviting software developers to help shape the face of the automaker's infotainment systems. The German manufacturer is holding an "App My Ride" contest where anyone can submit an application that they think would work well in future VW products. The ultimate goal is to put a little more control into the hands of the company's customers in order to create an infotainment system that's functional and easy to use, but there's also around $18,600 worth of prizes on the table for the best apps.

On May 3rd, VW will launch a new web site where users can upload their apps and submit ideas. Volkswagen is hoping that a collaborative community will spring from the project where developers can discuss apps the company currently uses as well as hone their concepts.

In order to jump into the fray, you'll need to come up with an idea for your very own app, a graphic design of the user interface and the appropriate programming in Adobe Flash or Flex. As part of the contest, VW is offering winning students a unique opportunity to study with the Volkswagen Research Group in Tokyo, Shanghai, California or Wolfsburg.

Winners will be picked by the "App My Ride" community and a panel of VW execs. One lucky developer will get to take part in a special vehicle unveil with their flight and hotel on the Volkswagen tab on top of cash prizes. Make the jump for the full press release.


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[Source: VW]


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Volkswagen invites users to help create the Infotainment systems of the future

Open Innovation Contest, "App My Ride", begins on 3rd May

Wolfsburg, 26 April 2010 - Volkswagen is inviting designers, programmers, developers and interested users to help develop applications for the Infotainment systems of the future as part of the Open Innovation Contest, "App My Ride". With this contest, Volkswagen has become the first car manufacturer to use the idea of open innovation for the further development of its products.

In the so-called "App My Ride" competition, users can jointly develop new Infotainment applications with Volkswagen. A jury of experts will select the winner whose creativity will be rewarded with special prizes. "Our aim is to invite the international developer community to take part in designing a future system," says Prof. Dr Jürgen Leohold, Head of the Volkswagen Group Research. So-called apps, also known as application programmes for certain devices which are available through an online shop, have helped to contribute to the smartphone boom. Applications designed by users (User Generated Content) are of central importance to the boom and are made available online by other users. Companies like Apple and Google successfully aid this nearly inexhaustible source of innovation.

"A quiet revolution is taking place right now," explains Dr Johann Füller, CEO of the innovation agency partner to Volkswagen through the "App My Ride" competition, Hyve AG. "The customer-orientated culture of the internet places an enormous power in the hands of the users. Leading organisations are starting to harness this power to develop better solutions and increase their competitiveness." Exactly what the "App My Ride" contest is targeting.

Currently a prototype for Volkswagen's Infotainment system is being developed in which Flash applications designed by different creators can be accumulated. In order to research the potential of apps for the vehicle Infotainment system, Volkswagen is trying to produce the most varied collection of applications possible.

An "innovation community" open to all internet users will be created as of 3rd May 2010 for the competition under the following URL: app-my-ride.volkswagen.com. Here, participants in the competition can log in and either load programmed apps or send in their creative ideas for future ones. "The participants are supposed to imagine what the purpose of their ideal Infotainment system is and how it would work and now they have the opportunity to make it a reality. At the same time, you can analyse the existing apps on our platform and discuss their design, uses and purposes," explains Dr Peter Oel, Head of "Control Designs and Drivers" of Volkswagen Group Research.

To develop an app, the participants must have the following:
- An idea for an app to be installed in a vehicle
- Graphic design of the user interface
- Programming in Adobe Flash / Flex

The purpose, design and logical construction of the app should be geared towards the possible requirements of drivers and other occupants.

The participant's creativity will be rewarded at the end of the competition. The most innovative application will be chosen by the "App My Ride" community and a jury consisting of Volkswagen managers and external experts. Besides cash and non-cash prizes worth up to €14,000, a special prize for students will also be awarded. This involves a placement within Volkswagen Group Research in Tokyo, Shanghai, California or Wolfsburg. Moreover, the winner of the competition can also expect an exclusive trip to take part in an international vehicle presentation which covers the costs of the flight and hotel.