Ageing industries have their problems. For decades automotive industry has been focusing on how to build faster, more comfortable and safer vehicles, but to innovate a part so far overlooked by almost everyone, Risto and Kevin decided to redesign the way cars sense their owner’s presence. In their view, a truly connected vehicle wakes up almost magically when the driver approaches, and reverses the process when he leaves.
This gave them a very unique insight to understanding key problems in the industry but also the respect to the hard work that goes into developing a vehicle as safe and as advanced as people are used to these days.
In summer of 2012, while running a technical design and engineering boutique with some of the locals back in Sweden a carmaker asked if there would be a quick way to control a concept car directly from a smartphone app. Risto was working with the advanced design team at Volvo Cars at the time and Kevin leading projects with Jaguar Land Rover and Chrysler/Fiat.
The first milestone was set.
Both had a dream to contribute to the development of future mobility from a young age and now it seemed the right moment had arrived. By then, first telematics applications had started to emerge but the delays in the system made them awkward to use near the vehicle. Both Risto and Kevin saw the frustration first hand when the ever changing consumer expectations collide with the complexities in developing a modern vehicle. The plan was born to look into developing a car-oriented connectivity technology that would work really well in vehicle’s close proximity and would require minimum set-up effort from the carmaker.
By fall 2012 the idea for the first prototype was set. Quick sketches of a concept car remote and tablet based infotainment were born. The core team was extended by Francesco Donadon, Tõnis Tiganik, Mikk Rätsep and Maidu Üle who started working on the car module’s hardware and firmware.
The first round of feedback showed that it was very tough to introduce the idea as a small upstart in a strictly traditional industry.
By March 2013 the core team felt unsatisfied with the progress and decided that it was only right to sharpen focus by building a new company from scratch with more information and guidance from people far more experienced in the automotive world. In the spring of 2013 HIGH MOBILITY was officially born.
This fresh thinking also required a little change of scenery. Risto and Kevin relocated from Sweden to Berlin - a city where they believed automotive industry will meet young talent working on exciting ideas in the course of the next 10 years.
The first 3 months in the Startupbootcamp Berlin exploded the number of industry connections 10-fold, also, enabled the team to work side by side with Mercedes-Benz for a period. Their feedback was much appreciated and formed HIGH MOBILITY’s thinking towards next milestones. On a flight back from Silicon Valley Risto received an email for a late opening in TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin. Just a week short from the Demo Day with Startupbootcamp he decided to accept and make best of the experience.
From the influx of new input from outsiders, the founders spotted the missing part of the puzzle and needed some time to formulate it into a clear roadmap. The answer was right under their eyes. During the time in Berlin, Holger Weiss from AUPEO! joined as a mentor.
HIGH MOBILITY realised that people will inevitably carry or wear smaller and smarter electronics in the coming years and making them understandable to vehicles will be a lucrative proposition. The team found synergies in working on numerous concepts with Panasonic Automotive Systems company who are experts in miniaturisation and a strong force in a hardware supplier role for the automotive industry.
Throughout 2014 HIGH MOBILITY focused on building device awareness engine and authentication methods to unify cars and wearables in close proximity. There are still many decisions to make but the team anticipates this will move connected vehicles into a new era - the sensing vehicles able to actively communicate with the driver in safety, convenience and commerce areas.