Israeli app’s promise: Never hit a red light again
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Israeli app’s promise: Never hit a red light again

Green Wave, which cracks the code of timed stoplights, was one of four winners in Hyundai’s first-ever connected car app hackathon

Participants, judges, and company executives at the finals of the Hyundai Connected Car Hackathon, November 17, 2015 (Sivan Faraj)
Participants, judges, and company executives at the finals of the Hyundai Connected Car Hackathon, November 17, 2015 (Sivan Faraj)

One day soon, drivers of Hyundai vehicles could benefit from an Israeli app that will help them “make” every traffic light. “Our Green Wave app tells drivers the ideal speed to drive in order to never hit a traffic light,’ said Shlomo Shenzitz, who developed the app with Rafael Vianeti. “The posted speed is not always the one drivers should use if they want to hit the green lights all the time.”

Green Wave was one of four apps that made it to the finals of the first-ever-anywhere app hackathon contest by Korean car maker Hyundai. The i-Way hackathon, said Hyundai Israel director Davidi Piamenta, saw dozens of apps submitted based on the company’s app API for use in its on-board app platform. Already in use on some higher-end 2015 models, the platform integrates Internet radio apps (TuneIn, IHeartRadio, Stitcher), direction apps (Waze, Google Maps), and communication apps (connections to smartphones, messaging systems).

The winners were announced at an event earlier in November at Hyundai Israel’s Rosh Ha’ayin headquarters, with top company officials flying in to present the awards. J.T. Park, the Hyundai regional sales director for the Middle East and Africa, said that it was appropriate for a Korean company like Hyundai to hold its first hackathon in Israel. “Both countries are very innovative. Our company’s slogan is ‘new thinking, new possibilities,’ and this event certainly has illustrated that,” he said.

Break-through apps

The winning apps were chosen for their ability to enhance the driving experience in a safe manner, providing information, entertainment, or other features in a way that will not divert the attention of a driver from the road, said Hyundai Israel director Davidi Piamenta.

“The apps that were developed for this contest are among the first developed specifically for connected cars, both for Hyundai or for any other car company. The Israeli developers came up with very innovative, out of the box ideas, to enhance the driver experience in connected cars,” Piamenta said. “These apps are a break-through for both drivers and passengers, making driving and riding in a car both safer and more fun.”

Safety is the prime feature in the winning app, Baby Guard, an app that connects with the safety belt system to remind drivers to take their infants with them when they leave their vehicle – and to buckle them in before they start driving. If a child is detected in the built-in infant seat, the app will remind the driver to ensure that the seat and shoulder belts are properly adjusted; and when the car is turned off, the app will announce a reminder to remove the child. The app, which is under development, won its creators NIS 100,000, which will be used to perfect the app and fully integrate with Hyundai’s Connected Car platform.

The second place winners, taking home a prize of NIS 30,000 each, included Kimchi Hot News, which reads off headlines and news stories, and On the Way, an app that uses location technology to determine what road a driver is on, and provide information about sites, gas stations, restaurants, and other points of interest in the area.

Green Wave won third place because it was a great idea, said the event’s judges, but needed more work before it could take its place on the Hyundai platform. But it’s potentially the most interesting of the bunch, the judges said, and for co-creator Shenzitz, that compliment is worth more than the NIS 15,000 the app won. “Timing the lights – driving at a speed that ensures you don’t have to stop at a red light as you travel down a street – is an impossible dream for most drivers. They realize that the stoplights are timed, because they can see them change from green to yellow to red in a pattern as they travel, but they have a hard time figuring out that pattern. That’s what our app does.”

Basing itself initially on information provided by a municipality and, when enough people start to use it, a crowdsourced database, Green Wave tells driver what the right speed is in order to “make” every green light in a series of timed stoplights. When the app displays a green wave, the car is moving at a speed that will ensure that there will no need to stop at a red light. When a red wave is displayed, drivers need to adjust their speed in order to realign their driving with the timed stoplights.

“Until now, the ‘real’ speed a driver needs to move at in order to make the lights has been a well-kept secret, but pilot projects we’ve done in several Israeli cities show that we can crack that code,” said Shenzitz. “Most drivers think that speeding through a green light will get them close enough to the next light in order to make it through, but that is definitely not the case – when you speed you eventually get ‘caught’ by a red light. The ‘real’ speed a driver should be moving at is always within the speed limit, but is not necessarily the limit.

“As a finalist in the contest, we will be working with Hyundai exclusively over the next few years, and they will begin a pilot of our app in several places,” added Shenzitz. “Having access to many more users will allow us to greatly expand our crowdsourced database and provide more accurate information about stoplights in many more places.

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