- Philip Potloff, the Edmunds executive vice president and CIO who is serving as a judge on the Connected Car Expo's FastPitch contest, says he is seeking consumer-friendly technology when it comes to picking a winner.
- "I'm going to put myself in the shoes of the consumer because that's what the focus is at Edmunds," said Potloff.
- Potloff said he is "rooting for the underdog" in a contest that challenges individuals and group entrants to solve a current issue affecting the auto industry.
SANTA MONICA, California — Philip Potloff, the Edmunds executive vice president and CIO who is serving as a judge on the Connected Car Expo's FastPitch contest, says he is seeking consumer-friendly technology when it comes to picking a winner.
"I'm going to put myself in the shoes of the consumer because that's what the focus is at Edmunds," said Potloff. "But I also have the benefit of working with the auto manufacturers and I understand how things get done in that world. I will scrutinize if contestants really understand that. At some point, I also appreciate people who say 'I'm going to change things.' That's what this whole event is about."
Potloff said he is "rooting for the underdog" in a contest that challenges individuals and group entrants to solve a current issue affecting the auto industry. The contest is part of the run-up to the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
"I'd like to see how the entrepreneur can prevail in a large and history-driven environment where the automotive manufacturing industry has a lot of history and partnerships," he said. "It would be really great to see the entrepreneur making headway with technology."
Industry experts, including Potloff, will hear pitches from eight finalists during CCE, and the winners will be announced on November 19 by Robert Herjavec of ABC's Shark Tank.
Potloff said he will keep an eye open for anything that "helps the consumer in daily life" as he judges entries.
"I'm going to be looking for everything from how you drive to what should be your next car based on your driving habits," he said. "There are a lot of ways in which data can be used to enter into the driving experience that helps the consumer."
He warns contestants: "Every judge will ask 'Will this work in my car?'"
"If the idea only works in Bugattis or Scions, there won't be a huge audience for it," he said.
The competition is designed to "showcase innovators defining new mobility while connecting them to the auto industry's top decision makers." Subjects can include automotive data, mapping, emissions, environmental issues, in-car apps, in-car entertainment, parking and telematics."
"The contest is important because I think it's critical for people to see the opportunities that exist in this emerging space," Potloff said. "This has historically been a closed area where manufacturers develop their own technology and own interfaces or work with exclusive partners.
"Now you have manufacturers starting to open programming interfaces for programmers to work with vehicles. For the first time, an individual driver can literally code or develop their own driving experience based on their specific needs. That's important for the industry because it fuels growth. Innovation fuels growth."
Potloff said there is a huge amount of opportunity for developers in areas such as automotive safety.
"People are building video-conferencing apps and game apps for smartphones that can be distracting," he said. "How does the auto manufacturer manage that risk? If someone could come up with a better smartphone design that is car-compatible that would be a great improvement. Or something where you can control your smartphone app instead of looking down while driving."
The final deadline for entries is September 30. Eight semifinalists will be announced on October 16. The 1st-place winner will be awarded a Splunk Start Program Enterprise License.
Edmunds says: Contestants get some important coaching from one of the FastPitch judges.