AT&T has cut the ribbon on a 5,000-square-foot research facility in Atlanta, solely dedicated to dreaming, developing, and testing new gadgets for the ever more connected car. The AT&T Drive Studio is the first working laboratory launched by a mobile network carrier to research and promote innovations in the growing smart phone-automobile nexus.
The AT&T Drive Studio is located near to the carrier’s £2-million Foundry innovation center, which harnessed the brainpower of the Georgia Institution of Technology to push frontiers in app development, home security, automation, and automotive connectivity. When the Foundry was opened last August, Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, described it as a place where ideas are forged. “We want to collaborate with developers, entrepreneurs, students to bring innovation to life for our customers,” de la Vega said.
The Foundry programme gives third-party developers access to AT&T’s prodigious infrastructure, allowing the company to tap into the ingenuity and talents of small-time, independent developers, venture capitalists, and startups. Mixing the outsider creativity of a startup and the resources of a major telematics corporation, AT&T has been able to respond quickly and agilely to new technological developments and consumer demands.
The Foundry is one of several ‘open source,’ collaborative innovation centres AT&T has opened across the world, from Palo Alto, California to Plano, Texas to Ra’anana, Israel. Altogether, AT&T and its corporate partners, including Amdocs and Ericsson, have poured more than £60 million into developing and funding these idea workshops, all in a race to stay ahead of competitors, indie developers, and consumers’ ever-evolving and insatiable tastes for connectivity and convenience.
With the spinning off of the Drive Studio, AT&T is reaffirming its commitment to developing new mobile-phone driven services for our automobiles. “Our goal is to be the best carrier for connected car innovation in the world,” Glenn Lurie, president of emerging enterprises and partnerships at AT&T Mobility, said.
Researchers at the AT&T Drive Studio will develop products and services fueled by next-generation data speeds, including voice-controlled applications and advanced automobile diagnostics systems. AT&T is teaming up with Accenture, Amdocs, Clear Channel’s iHeart Radio, Ericsson, Jasper Wireless, Synchronoss and VoiceBox to provide a platform for automakers to develop customisable, AT&T-powered apps that bring those company’s products into the vehicle.
“What we’re finding with the auto [manufacturers], the technology is evolving so fast, they now have to move faster,” Lurie said.
The “several-million”-pound Drive Studio will feature garage bays, a speech lab, a show run, and conference space.