A car that knows where your kids are: BMW invests in Life360

The first wave of connected car apps centered on music and audio streaming. It looks like the second wave of in-dash services may revolve around location sharing.
We’ve already seen location-sharing app Glympse make it into its first connected platform, Ford’s (s f) Sync AppLink. Now BMW’s strategic investment arm i Ventures is partnering with family locator service Life360 to develop in-car technologies that would allow family members to locate one another and coordinate their activities. i Ventures is also making an undisclosed investment in the San Francisco startup.
While an app like Glympse allows you to selectively share your location with anyone for a set period of time, Life360 creates a permanent share between a close-knit group such as a nuclear family. That allows Life360 to build services on top of that presence data.
“Imagine you want to meet your wife at your kids’ soccer game,” said Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO of Life360. “Right now you have to call her, get an address and then program it into your navigation system to get directions. That’s a lot of unnecessary friction.”
connected car logoWhat Life360 proposes is an in-dash app that automatically keeps tabs on your family members’ activities. To find your wife, as in Hulls’ example, you merely have to tap on her portrait in the app, and her location is automatically fed into the car’s vehicle nav system.
BMW isn’t the only automaker that thinks Life360 shows promise in the connected car. One of the startup’s lead investors is Fontinalis Partners, a transportation technology fund founded by Bill Ford, the executive chairman of his namesake company. The company recently closed a Series A round of $3.5 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, 500 Startups, Kapor Capital, Venture51, Bullpen Capital, Social Leverage and EchoVC Partners.
As you might expect, Life360 as apps in the works for both Ford and BMW’s connected car platforms, but Hulls said its working with other automakers as well, including Mercedes, General Motors(s gm) and Hyundai. While Hulls wouldn’t reveal which automaker’s platform would be the first to launch Life360’s app, he said the app would go live in a least one connected car system this year.
We’re already starting to location finding its way into more connected car apps and not just in the form of navigation software. Roximity and BeCouply are using presence data to push location-based deals and recommend nearby activities for the amorously inclined.
And while location-sharing isn’t a feature in most in-vehicle nav systems it’s starting to make it into many mobile mapping and navigation apps. Telenav recently announced an update to its iOS software that can share not only a user’s current location but also your intended destination, allowing friends to coordinate their activities on a map.