Belgium-based Acunia continues its almost evangelistic efforts to get the telematics world to adopt an open framework for the next generation of telematics devices.

Telematics creates the connection that enables drivers to connect to virtually any information or service provider in the world.

Acunia, formerly Smart Move, laid out its vision of a telematics future at the 2001 SAE in Detroit early last month. An open framework, explains Acunia co-founder Steven Buytaert, would include a host of providers, all being able to communicate with a vehicle to provide services ranging from subscription music, email, real-time traffic advisories or weather. But he notes that other services, such as pay-as-you-drive insurance coverage could also be provided over the system. The system could inform the insurer when the car was being driven, and the vehicle owner would only pay for coverage when the car was on the road.

The key to offering a wide range of services is a focus on a common architecture for the technology that delivers the myriad services, allowing the service providers to concentrate on the things they do best.

“An insurance company, or any other service provider, shouldn't have to devote a big part of their resources into developing new technology to provide their services, “Mr. Buytaert explains.

Acunia's vision of the future sees a “communication and control center” manned by a service provider that could handle the routing of content, software applications and communication with the end users — the drivers. All communication would use a Java script-based language, allowing a motorist to accept content from virtually any service provider in the world.

Late last month, Acunia teamed up with BMW AG at the Information Technology trade fair in Hannover, Germany, to offer a live demonstration of dynamic downloading over the automaker's Connected-Drive concept.

Mr. Buytaert explains that current proprietary technology that ties hardware to a specific service or type of communication can be compared to a PC user today who would have to use a different computer device for almost every type of application he is running: “One for Microsoft Word, one for Excel and still another for Power Point.”

Put another way, he smiles, “It's like having a cell phone that only allows you to receive calls from your mother-in-law.”