Setting a new precedent for manufacturer-involved interactivity, Volkswagen is requesting input from designers, programmers, developers and other interested users to help it create new applications for the Infotainment systems being created for future VW vehicles. This potentially rewarding opportunity will be the heart of VW's Open Innovation Contest "App My Ride," which is set to start May 3rd. Details of the challenge will be available at: . The site will allow participants to log in and either load programmed apps or send in their own creative ideas for future ones.

Turning Flash Into Cash

Volkswagen is currently developing a prototype infotainment system that allows Flash-based applications from various sources to be banked and filed for future reference in a super-database that will allow it access to the widest-ranging set of new infotainment-related apps possible. Dr. Peter Oel, Head of "Control Designs and Drivers" of Volkswagen Group Research, explained the role of the innovation community VW is seeking to hear from. "The participants are supposed to imagine what the purpose of their ideal Infotainment system is and how it would work and now they have the opportunity to make it a reality. At the same time, you can analyze the existing apps on our platform and discuss their design, uses and purposes."

According to VW, to develop an app for consideration, the individual must outline the idea, create a graphic design of the user interface and program it in Adobe Flash/Flex. It also wants to see apps with a purpose, design and construction that are directly geared to meeting the needs of either the vehicle's driver or passengers. At the end of the competition, the entries will be judged and the most innovative singled out by the "App My Ride" community and a panel of VW managers and outside experts in the field. In addition to cash and non-cash prizes worth up to €14,000 ($18,000) and a trip to take part in an international vehicle presentation, a winning student-submitted entry will also qualify the individual for a "placement" within Volkswagen Group Research in Tokyo, Shanghai, California or Wolfsburg.

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