Almost a week ago, we kicked off our Hackathon at TechCrunch Disrupt. Before the event started, Ford had already picked a number of teams that would get access to the otherwise closed Ford AppLink API. The winner of this challenge was BeCouply, which developed the Dates.fm app for suggesting interesting dates to Ford’s in-car interface. Date.fm, the team says, “lets you tune in to nearby date ideas on your phone and in your vehicle.”
The Ford SYNC AppLink Developer Challenge at the Hackathon was meant to see what developers could do with the AppLink API. Given the security and liability considerations involved in the car industry, Ford hasn’t opened its API to all developers yet. The company, however, has worked together with a number of developers to bring apps like Pandora, IHeartRadio, NPR, and others to its platform already.
The team behind BeCouply and Dates.fm, Becky Cruze and Pius Uzamere, turns out to be a couple in real life as well. The AppLink platform, said Cruze, “lets you start thinking outside the box about things that previously seemed impossible.” For many couples, said Uzamere, “great dates begin in their car. So we thought to ourselves, how could we extend our app concept to the car and build a truly magical experience for couples?”
“Picking a winner was harder than ever, but Dates.fm stood out as an area that has tremendous opportunity in the context of the car. If you think about it, the car is an integral part of any relationship, and Dates.fm can ensure a romantic date night with the help of SYNC,” said Julius Marchwicki, Ford’s global product manager for SYNC AppLink in a canned statement earlier this week. “We’re excited to see developers embracing SYNC AppLink to deliver new ideas that add voice-activated convenience and value for our customers.”
BeCouply had already received funding from a number of angel investors, including Lotus co-founder Mitch Kapor. Just like last year, Ford will invite the winners to CES in Last Vegas in January 2013 to feature their app as part of the company’s presence at the show. BeCouply also won $1,000 from Nuance for the best use of in-car voice recognition.