Open source smartphone gets real-time traffic and parking information

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A new smartphone is being launched that uses an Open Source operating system and features real-time traffic and parking information. The BQ Aquaris E4.5 is the world’s first smartphone to use the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, which is currently funded and promoted by the UK-based open source software company, Canonical Ltd. The company has formed a partnership with global transportation information provider, Inrix, to provide traffic, incident and parking intelligence for the new smartphone. Canonical’s unique ‘Scopes’ system enables users to access information direct from the phone’s home screen, with the ‘NearBy’ Scope making information about local amenities and important information on the user’s vicinity accessible. The new handset will feature traffic intelligence via the NearBy Scope, which has been integrated using Inrix’s Mobile Development Kit (MDK) that provides partners with access to real-time traffic speeds on maps, alerts to accidents, construction, road closures, events and other incidents and calculates travel times and ETAs in traffic. The MDK enables developers to build systems using Inrix data, enabling companies to create their own native proprietary apps to offer the experience to their customers.

Using the Inrix data, the Aquaris E4.5 will provide users with crucial information, including: incident alerts tell users what to expect on the road ahead, including details about the incident and its expected impact; real-time static images and live video feeds from local traffic cameras along major roadways, providing users with unparalleled visibility and insight into traffic conditions on the road ahead; and information for off-street parking facilities in the local area, including crucial data on pricing, maximum stay duration, and live parking availability. Canonical’s Scopes system is a complete reinvention of the traditional mobile user interface (UI), presenting a new way to rapidly and visually access the most important digital information directly on the phone’s home screen.

Cristian Parrino, VP of mobile at Canonical, said, “Ubuntu presents users with an entirely different way to engage with their devices. Our mobile story moves beyond apps and the app icon grid; Scopes are an entirely new user experience that brings the content you want direct to the home screen, making key information much more accessible. Our partnership with Inrix will provide Ubuntu users with real-time traffic, incident and parking intelligence, made more accessible than ever before.” Scott Sedlik, general manager and VP for the EMEA region at Inrix, commented, “Smartphones are a vital source of information for drivers, and this partnership provides Ubuntu users with access to real-time traffic alerts direct from the home screen. Drivers need to stay up-to-date with developments on their routes and in the local area. By providing incident updates, parking location and availability information and live feeds from traffic cameras, our data puts Ubuntu users in the driving seat, saving them fuel, time and frustration.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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