Ford today announced it will acquire Livio, a Ferndale, Mich.-based software development startup. Livio builds products and software tools to support smartphone/car connectivity and has a strong track record of creating in-car connectivity solutions. Ford’s purchase of Livio is designed to accelerate innovation by providing access to each other’s talented engineers and unique intellectual property, as well as enabling both companies to work toward developing an industry standard for smartphone-to-vehicle communications.

“With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.

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Ford and Livio are joining forces amid explosive growth in the connected car market. Last year, more than 1.9 million vehicles were delivered with smartphone integration solutions, such as Ford SYNC AppLink. That number is expected to reach 21 million vehicles by 2018, according to a June report from London-based GSMA, which represents the global mobile industry, and data from SBD, a London automotive technology consulting firm.

Livio’s software-based, advanced vehicle information and entertainment solutions improve the connection between software and hardware. Now, they will help Ford standardize the way customers connect their smartphones to their vehicles.

Ford previously contributed Smart Device Link, the open source version of AppLink, to the GENIVI Alliance for use by app developers.

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A single vehicle interface standard gives developers the opportunity to write software faster and more efficiently, providing customers the apps they want to use more quickly. Livio software already is compatible with several commonly used apps and works with all major smartphone devices.