Herndon, VA – Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Google announced today the beta launch of SmileDrive™, the first app designed to maximize fun on every trip. The beta version of the app is available to download exclusively in the Google Play store (www.play.google.com/store).
144 million Americans now spend an average of 52 minutes daily in a car, 76 percent of them by themselves, according to the US Census Bureau. “A lot of time is spent in the car today, whether it is for the daily commute to work or setting off with friends and family on a weekend camping trip,” said Kevin Mayer, Vice President of Marketing at Volkswagen of America. “We wanted to provide a way for consumers to add a little more flare to their road trips and a way to share the good times in their VW’s with their friends.”
SmileDrive connects to a user’s car—any kind of car—through Bluetooth® wireless technology, and runs in the background to track data for both everyday commutes and road trips. After a drive is complete, the app uses factors like location, distance, time and weather to deliver users their Smile Score and awards them with “stickers,” i.e. virtual bumper stickers, for unique accomplishments earned while out and about. The app has also re-imagined the classic “PunchDub” game, allowing people to collect “punches” each time they encounter another Volkswagen running using the app. Drivers cannot interact with the app, nor receive any notifications, while the car is in motion.
On a longer road trip, SmileDrive offers the ability to create a Smilecast: a dynamic travelogue filled with the captured photos, maps of the trip, status updates, as well as other memories that are collected on a single URL. Through the URL, friends and family can view the Smilecast after the trip has ended.
SmileDrive was conceived as part of Google’s ongoing Art, Copy & Code project, which focuses on reimagining brand experiences for the connected world. “We’re exploring how brands can connect to consumers through a whole range of digital tools, whether that’s through ads, mobile apps, or experiences,” said Aman Govil, Art, Copy & Code Project Lead at Google. “Cars can be conduits to amazing life experiences, as much as they get us from point A to B. SmileDrive aims to capture these moments, making drives a more social and sharable experience.”
The app was built in partnership with Deutsch LA, Volkswagen of America’s creative and digital agency of record, and Grow Interactive, Google’s lead creative and technology partner on brand initiatives for Art, Copy & Code. “Volkswagen has a long history of remarkable storytelling—and of promoting happiness,” says Winston Binch, Deutsch LA’s chief digital officer. “We wanted to see if we could translate that legacy into a useful and fun digital product that helps people socialize their trips.”
• Seamless Sharing – The app is linked to the user’s Google+ account and friends can be invited to follow these trips online, commenting on photos and posts along the way. Everything recorded is shareable, should the user choose.
• Smilecast – Friends can either be invited to join along in the car via Google+, or watch the journey on the web. At the end of the trip, the driver receives a brief video compiling the highlights of their trip, which can then be shared with friends and family.
• Stickers – Users can earn fun, virtual bumper stickers when they unlock special achievements, such as the “Night Owl” sticker for late night drives. These can be shared on any social network.
• Punches – Users can play a re-imagined version of the classic “PunchDub” game. When two Volkswagen SmileDrive users encounter each other en route, the app will register a virtual “punch”.
• Smile Score – At the end of each drive, SmileDrive calculates the number of points earned while on the road. Points are a function of the number of punches, stickers earned, traffic conditions, weather, and more.
• Find My Car – By logging the vehicle’s last position, SmileDrive can help users find their car via Google Maps, and receive corresponding walking directions when available.
• Bluetooth® wireless technology – Through pairing the app with the car, drives are automatically recorded when the user starts and stops the vehicle. If the car doesn’t have Bluetooth technology, the app can be manually started and stopped before driving begins.
Driver should never attempt to operate the SmileDrive app or their mobile device while vehicle is in motion. Always pay careful attention to the road, and do not drive while distracted. The app requires compatible Android device. Standard data rates apply.
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