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When we think of navigation and mapping devices, TomTom is one of the companies that is spearheading the segment alongside big players. While, the company is not only about hardware that can help you find your way but is also active in HD mapping, which is one of the technologies that is crucial in enabling autonomous vehicles to find their way without needing any human intervention.
TomTom is a Netherlands-based company that develops navigation technology and consumer electronics. The Dutch company launched its first generation of satellite navigation devices in the market back in 2004. The company’s co-founder, Corinne Vigreux, was one of the speakers present at the TNW Conference 2019, held in Amsterdam recently. We sat down with her to understand more about TomTom, the direction it’s progressing, what the future holds for its upcoming tech and more.
What can we expect from TomTom in 2019?
High Definition (HD) mapping is one of the key areas where the company is focused on. As per Vigreux, the company already has about half a million cars driving with level one and level two automation capabilities, thanks to high definition maps. There is another tech that the company is looking into but she refrained from divulging too much information about it. But she did note, “TomTom is also looking into how people interact within the car.”
“So we are building connected cars and are looking at that whole human interaction, which was behind our success in the early days. I think we understand what needs to be done to reduce tech-driver distraction to make sure that we provide the drivers with the best possible product to drive safely, along with the best technology to car makers to make sure that their drivers drive safely as well,” says Vigreux. The company will release more information on the same later this year.
What’s the future of mapping industry?
Mapping, without a doubt, is required in many areas and is a base need for multiple apps. About 80 percent of application maps need some type of location technology, as per the company executive. TomTom thinks it can play a big role here as HD mapping and real-time mapping, as per the company, are the future of mapping. Vigreux says, “Real-time mapping is basically mapping the world as you go and incorporating sensor data and processing that data with a map. This data goes into the cloud and is brought back to the car. So all these technologies of real-time map making are really important and these are the technologies we working on.”
How does deeptech plan to deal with traffic congestion?
While commuting to the office or college, one is most likely to get stuck in traffic for a considerable amount of time. However, TomTom says there are technologies that are working to solve this problem. For example, when traffic information is sent to the car via the company’s devices, it’s known how many cars are present on the road, at any time of the day, on what type of roads, and at what speeds.
This information can be used by anyone and the company is investing time with cities to look at their congestion levels. The data is used in various ways like in helping city planners decide what would be the best way to design roads when one knows what the cost of driving is. “What we’re doing is really holding a commitment with our data to help local governments and municipalities managed their traffic in a better way. This has a huge impact on pollution and on traffic,” Vigreux adds.
Taking on giant rivals with unique strategies
TomTom competes with Google, which is one of the biggest companies in the world that has a strong presence in the navigation space. However, it has a different business model and faces dissimilar issues pertaining to data privacy. The company has a different way of bringing its tech that’s focussed on data privacy with the way it implements its Maps API, works with developers and with other companies like Microsoft. It is quite sure of coming up with products that can compete with offerings from other rival giants.
Any upcoming acquisitions?
While Vigreux didn’t reveal too much about the company’s plans, she did confirm that TomTom is always looking around. It is said to always have an eye out for attracting talents like it did with the Berlin-based company called Autonomous a couple of years ago. “I think when we are doing well, people recognise that we have a major role to play in this field. People love our culture, our tech and our approach to solving problems. So, when we find good companies on the way, we can buy them and also collaborate with other companies along the way.”
What’s the goal and vision for Codam?
For those unaware, Codam is a peer-to-peer school that covers the complete tuition fee of its students. It currently has a team of ten members but is said to follow a highly scalable model so that at full capacity the school will host about 600 students. This means Codam is set to become one of the biggest schools in Holland.
Explaining more about Codam, Vigreux who is the founder of the coding college says, “We monitor everything that’s happening. So, we look at the type of background kids are coming from, how many hours they spend in school, what type of jobs they get, how much is their salary and more. Also, we can prove that the perception that you need to be good at math and physics is incorrect as one can be successful in technology without necessarily having this preconception.”
Vigreux observes what goes on in the school and advises people about what works and is scalable and what’s not. Starting with training future pupils this way the vision is that the government recognises and embraces the teaching method steadily to bring peer-to-peer to the mainstream, where Codam’s philosophies would have the most impact.
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