The future of mobility: Ficonic took the connected car challenge seriously

Do you admit that you sometimes check your e-mail even behind the steering wheel? Or discover the latest gossip on social media while driving? You are not alone. Most people do. This is why Ficonic Solutions, a Finnish startup, began to develop software that allow motorists to use on-line services in a safe way.

The year 2015 has been both vivid and educational for Ficonic. The one-year old company was first established to create software for car industry and Internet of Things. The key staff soon realised the potential lying in one billion cars around the world. How to turn these into connected cars, they wondered. How to create a system that makes the driver not even want to touch the smartphone while driving?

Today, the future looks promising for Ficonic. We talked with Timo Salminen, CEO of the company:

1. Timo Salminen, what kinds of solutions do you offer for future smart mobility?

“We know how to collect and share driving condition data. Apart from this, in its Project 1B Ficonic is developing smartphone connectivity software to link vehicles and their information systems with phones. This will allow the driver to follow social media channels, for example, but still keep eyes firmly on the road and hold the steering wheel with both hands. According to our survey, this is needed: 88% of drivers use their smartphones while driving, and 20% are absorbed in social media. In addition, people wish to have streaming media in their cars even rather than a traditional radio.”

2. What practical problems does your smart mobility solution solve, and whose daily life does it facilitate?

“According to the Finnish Transport Agency, 40% of Finns have experienced dangerous situations on the road due to the use of smartphone. Our solution enhances road safety and makes driving much more fun. What about if we could not wait to get into our cars to drive again?”

3. How far are you now with the development of your smart mobility solution?

“Ficonic currently has both ready-made solutions and those under development. In the Project 1B, we are searching for key clients with whom to develop the first commercial version based on our existing prototype. They might be companies willing to sell millions of devices, service contracts or data subscriptions. A potential partner may also want to collect and monetise vehicle data, or to offer new services for its clients. Several discussions are going on. We aim at launching the first version for consumers during 2016.”

4. What plans do you have for the future? What kind of challenges and goals do you have regarding internationalisation?

“Ficonic already has international clients. We have set ourselves extremely tough growth objectives: 10 million Euros in five years. Ficonic can reach this with hard work, right solutions – and some luck. Most of the profit would certainly come from countries other than Finland.”

5. Is Finland a good country for developing smart mobility solutions? Why?

”It is, indeed. Deep know-how is available, and the world is not so far away. We also greatly benefit from the open data offered by the Finnish Transport Agency. For example, the Digiroad database contains data on the location of all the roads and streets in Finland as well as their physical features, and the Digitraffic service offers real-time road and rail traffic information.”

6. Technology already offers lots of possibilities but the challenge often lies in getting people to use the new solutions. How do you think we could encourage people to use smart mobility solutions?

“We strive to offer car-drivers the safest way to use on-line services. We want to do this better than anyone else and cannot simply copy existing solutions. Briefly put, the solution – whether technical or not – must create so much value that the user wants to use it. Value may mean saving or earning money, funnier driving, enhanced security – or all this.”

Ficonic Solutions

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Eero Lukin