Nissan Leaf Wants Apps, Needs Your Data To Make Them Work

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Humanity is in an awkward phase -- the gangly, emotional phase between life as we've known it for thousands of years and a life lived largely online. The transition has made many uncomfortable, afraid that we're casting off the familiar trappings of the real world in favor of something new, virtual, "unreal".

Throughout the process, privacy concerns have reared their ugly heads. It seems like every other day, there's a front-page story about a website or an email account or a Twitter account being hacked. Some of those incidents have had dire consequences.

The automotive community isn't immune to such issues. The more networked our cars become, the more vulnerable we are to hackers and other baddies. Though we've got a way to go before such folks can do massive damage to motorists, the day is coming.

Other problems are closer at hand. A couple of years ago, blogger Casey Halverson revealed that the Nissan Leaf was sharing location and velocity data via its always-on telematics system known as Carwings. Thankfully, there's an easy way to turn that off.

But Nissan is hoping you won't turn that off. According to Engadget, the automaker wants to develop apps for Carwings, and in order to do that, it needs to supply app developers with data -- your data.  

The reasons for that are pretty obvious. The most robust apps in today's marketplace tend to be location-based apps that offer suggestions for restaurants, shopping, and fuel, given a user's location. (Think Waze, Urbanspoon, and so on.)

That holds doubly true for in-car apps. Leaf drivers need to know where the nearest charging station might be -- not to mention where to get a good lunch and land a few bargains while they're waiting for the battery to top off.

To deliver the most accurate directions, coupons, and other data, though, Nissan needs as many drivers as possible to share their info. Doing so benefits all drivers, since the map of charging stations, food, and such is ultimately crowdsourced. (It benefits Nissan, too, since the company will sell that shared data to developers for a tasty fee.)

The question is: will enough Leaf drivers share their private data to make the development of those apps worthwhile? Would you?

[h/t: Brian Henderson]

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