A reader asks

I have been following this Skymeter thing for some time now, and I have few questions:

1: Could your in-car meter cost be 100% offset or set to a nominal amount such as $10 if tied to location based services or couponing?

ABSOLUTELY!  That is the whole reason for adding multiple, desirable user services such as automatic, ticket-free parking payments and pay-as-you-drive insurance.

2:  Is there a model whereby a smartphone could replace the need for your telematics unit?

Not exactly, although the smartphone will be integrated for auditing, couponing and several other elements and services. Why can such a replacement not be 100%?  There are two critical difference between the telematics needed in the connected vehicle and smart phones.

First, payment telematics for road, parking and PAYD insurance must be attached securely to ensure correct metering for payment.  You can leave your phone at home or off.  This class of technology acts like an electronic license plate or a taxi meter.  It is not transferable or moveable, as is the in-car unit for the Toronto’s 407 or the E-ZPass in the US, which charges at a point and is replaceable by a license plate reader.  So doing it your way, but with these constraints would make it like the attached, in-car-phones of 15-20 years ago -- a step backwards.

Secondly, the driver is in a bit of an adversarial relationship with a road-use | parking | insurance meter, unlike your collaborative relationship with your navigation device or smartphone. Hence the road use meter must operate without user intervention and must always be correct to within a tiny error tolerance (e.g., 0.1%).  The GPS sensors on your smart phone cannot do that.  Skymeter can because it has several other sensors and processors that would make your smart phone about 50% bigger (for now – and to anticipate your next question – sure that will come, someday, as well).

The location-precise telematics we have developed we call Financial-grade GPS (FGPS).  What is in your smart phone and your Garmin is Navigation-grade GPS.  FGPS means: always accurate, non-reputable, low transaction cost, and private.  Just like your Visa card but not like your smart phone (which missing both “always accurate” [with respect to location] and “non-reputable”). The part we developed will disappear behind your rear-view mirror and your smart phone (or a dashboard display) will be your interface. AND your telco provider will be handling your payment.  So a Skymeter = the meter, your smartphone = the app interface, and a telco = the service provider.  But inside the Skymeter-smartphone combination are several other apps such as safety, in-car signage, other traveler apps, couponing, rewards, parking loyalty programs, and many others -- the smartphone app-model, but for automobility-related apps.
3: Could your parking fees be paid for by businesses that want to encourage you to park near them?
ABSOLUTELY.  That is an included capability. This is where the smart phone can play a role, although there are several ways to affect this. Remember your great uncle who does not like cell phones?  BUT you need the accuracy and non-refutability of FGPS to avoid cheating.

4: I think [Google | Facebook | Apple] is going to pay for your parking. Do you agree?

Well, I think your local retailer might want to pay for your parking (as an earned reward) and folks like Google | Facebook | Apple will fight over ways to help them.

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