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Bug Labs' BugSwarm counts Ford among app-building customers

Bug Labs' cloud-based BugSwarm service can offer app developers databases of information collected from thousands of Web-enabled devices. Ford is already on board.

Bug Labs today introduced BugSwarm, a cloud-based service for developers that aggregates data from various Internet-enabled devices.

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The company, which takes an open-source approach to both software and hardware (Unfiltered: VZW invites developers to build their own devices), hopes developers will use BugSwarm access information from devices and sources across multiple networks, creating intelligent “mashup” apps.

"BugSwarm's Web UI and API let developers access hardware functions as a collection of Web services that can easily be manipulated and curated to create a new breed of applications and services that benefit businesses and community," Bug Labs CEO Peter Semmelhack said in a statement.

He went on to describe BugSwarm as solving a "huge problem in the marketplace" — reducing the complexity of app development by aggregating and organizing the data from potentially thousands of devices — and speeding up deployment times.

One company already taking advantage of the service is Ford, which today announced it's working with Bug Labs on OpenXC, a new in-car research platform.

"OpenXC transforms the car into a plug-and-play platform where interchangeable open-source hardware and software modules can be ... customized to perform tasks deemed previously unimaginable by developers," Ford said in a statement. "Innovations such as new visual and audio feedback interfaces, environmental sensors and safety devices can be implemented quickly by snapping Bug Labs' hardware modules directly into Ford vehicles."

Bug Labs' hardware components have been described as coming together as easily as Lego blocks (CP: Bug Labs banks on DIY desire), and Ford is banking on this ease as a way to build customer loyalty, enable drivers to customize their vehicles and keep vehicles interesting as new technologies and features develop. One suggested example — for Cricket fans in India — is a $30 module that a local dealer could click into the car's master control board, enabling the driver to access a radio station dedicated to airing cricket games over the course of a season.

At a San Francisco event today, the pair also announced a social-network-inclined Fuel Economy Challenge application that uses a Bluetooth-enabled LED display module to display how efficiently the vehicle is being driven.

"We know that one size does not fit all and that limiting ourselves to one connectivity model [SYNC] is not going to sustain us going forward,” said K. Venkatesh Prasad, the senior technical leader with Ford Research and Innovation, in a statement. “OpenXC gives us the ultimate sandbox to play in, where we can collaborate with technology innovators such as Bug Labs, share ideas with the crowd, and then test out our theories together."

BugSwarm is currently limited to a small group of commercial customers and is available by invitation only. In October, a General Developer Preview will be available, and during the fourth quarter Bug Labs plans to share pricing details.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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