How connected is your car? Nine great ideas for electric vehicles from Capco’s EV hackathon

Quieter, faster and more sustainable than their fossil-burning counterparts, EVs – electric vehicles - are also better ‘connected’. We tested a few EV connectivity concepts at a recent hackathon hosted by Capco and Digital Nebula, aiming to address some of the challenges facing electric vehicle drivers. Attendees included IBM, Deloitte Digital, EthosVO, MakersAcademy and many Tesla owners and technology entrepreneurs. Here are some great concepts developed by the hackathon teams on the day:

  1. A parking platform that predicts live availability of parking spaces. This platform (website) will give you current and predicted parking space availability for your destination, so you have a better chance of finding a spot. Sensor data is currently available for over 220,000 parking locations and this number is growing. For more details see Ethos Parking Platform. 
  1. The ‘Unlockatron’ unlocks the car using a passage of music. Based on ideas from the challenger bank Mondo car-club hackathon I attended a few weeks earlier, and inspired by the playing bones on a keyboard scene from the Goonies movie, the Unlockatron became the winning hack. Watch video.
  1. An elasticsearch platform for EV charging networks that can crowdsource charging data from users to:
  • Show current availability across charging networks (e.g. Polar, Ecotricity, Pod Point)
  • Predict live availability of a charger (by calculating charge time based on usage)
  • Advise which chargers are best to use on for particular trips


The scope for this platform’s functionality is huge. For example, it can be used to identify car parks that are difficult to navigate or have width restrictions - something of a concern for Tesla Model S drivers, never mind future owners of the even larger Model X being launched later this year. In conjunction with Ethos Parking, this search platform could become a major utility for EV drivers.

  1. A proximity-based car personalisation system.  Your car recognises you (from close proximity) via a mobile GPS/Bluetooth signal and adapts to your stored preferences, for example seat position and radio station.
  1. A KNX-based home and car integration system. As your car pulls up to the drive, the system unlocks gates, opens garage door and turns the house lights on.
  1. IBM Bluemix and Watson-inspired, natural language integration with car services. This allows users to talk to their car, query status and generally takes hands-free services to a whole new level.

Other ideas that surfaced and will feature in a follow-up event:

  1. Deeper analytics of chargepost data, e.g. notification of live availability of charge stations, data on popular charging locations (for marketing opportunities).
  1. A QR code/Tag/iBeacon reader on chargeposts with updates on discounted offers from local businesses.
  2. Integration with Philips HUE lighting that changes colour to indicate speeding or low charge-levels, encouraging prompt action.

The biggest takeaway from the event? We discovered how easy it was to develop value-add services from existing technology. The internet of things, cloud services, sensor data, open APIs and energetic teams of developers make it possible.

Car manufactures are bringing innovative technology to their EV efforts, and many of these technologies will be included into wider model ranges once they are proven.  It's a logical strategy, given that EV buyers tend to be quite tech-savvy.

As a Tesla owner, I have not visited a petrol station in more than 18 months. I have driven to Europe and back at no cost (courtesy of the Tesla Supercharger network) and consider myself a ‘connoisseur’ of the silent electric drivetrain. With the possibilities offered by API-enabled connectivity, the fast and smooth EVs are evolving into dream machines.

Look out for future EV hackathons from Capco and Digital Nebula soon.