Ford Hackathon Ford Hackathon Ford is hoping its courting of programmers and developers results in new apps and functionality for its in-car experience. (Photo: Ford Motor Company)

Creating the coolest dashboard you've ever seen

Ford is challenging developers to create new apps to improve the driving experience.

In a span of 24 hours, the Ford Motor Company is hoping something incredible is born that might revolutionize the future of connected vehicles. That's the idea behind the automaker's TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon this weekend in San Francisco, a massive gathering of computer programmers and developers all focused on creating game-changing software in a short period of time.

But why is Ford courting programmers instead of gearheads? Blame it on your smartphone. The in-car experience is no longer one of dials and buttons, but of touchscreens, apps and voice commands. Instead of calling on smartphone assistants like Siri or Cortana to find the nearest gas station, Ford is hoping you'll keep your eyes on the road and ask your vehicle instead. At TechCrunch, developers will be given 24 hours to come up with new apps for presenting information on everything from fuel and oil levels to GPS, tire pressure, entertainment options, local bargains and much more.

In an effort to build this functionality and court creative vision, the company recently held hackathons in China, Australia and Brazil. After TechCrunch, Ford will turn its attention to holding an overnight hackathon in Tel Aviv, Israel, with entrepreneurs, teams and independent developers from one of the world's biggest startup ecosystems urged to take part.

“Ford was the first automaker to host a developer conference, and at the event last year we experienced the power of innovation within the developer community,” said Ford's Doug VanDagens. “For the second annual hackathon, we hope to break new ground and discover new ways to enhance the in-car experience.”

Past winners of Ford's hackathons have included ROXIMITY, an app that presents users with up-to-date discounts from local businesses based on their location, and FuelSignal, which allows drivers to sign up for notifications on low gas prices.

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