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Ford and Baidu Buddy Up in Hackathon for In-Car Apps

Baidu Ford hackathon

Those in blue vests are Ford support engineers.

China’s top search engine, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), held its first ever hackathon in conjunction with another company over the weekend, buddying up with automaker Ford (NYSE:F) to reward developers in a hackathon for coming up with new in-car apps.

As we noted earlier this month, Ford is pushing its in-car ‘Sync’ dashboard to geeky drivers in China, recently adding support for using voice commands to post to Sina Weibo.

The joint Baidu-Ford hackathon took place in Beijing over the weekend where 26 individuals and self-organized teams hacked together 26 in-car apps using Ford’s AppLink API for voice-control in Sync apps and Baidu’s tools in its developer center. In addition, the search company says it “opened new APIs, including music and facial recognition, especially for this hackathon.”

Baidu’s announcement today explains:

Some of the integrated apps allowed drivers to send SMS or post Weibo or microblog entries by voice, while others enabled drivers to ask questions about buildings, billboards or landmarks they drove by, with answers pushed to their cars from the cloud. Another app detects a drowsy driver with facial recognition technology, waking up droopy-lidded drivers with a high-volume song — and texts friends automatically with the driver’s location and a request for help.

Baidu Ford hackathon

Click to enlarge. (Photo from ‘baidudev’ on Sina Weibo)

From photos of the hackathon posted to Sina Weibo, it seems there was a lot of frantic coding, awkward tabletop napping, and noodle slurping going on. In addition, some engineers from Ford were on hand to provide guidance.

The winner was Ms. Gao Yuan (pictured right) who took home a giant ticket to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Her winning hack was “a simple two-option multiple choice quiz game with the driver, ranking the score among all drivers using the app.”



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