Editor's note: An earlier version of this story showed the incorrect Web address for the OpenXC platform. The correct address is www.openxcplatform.com.
Ford Motor Co. wants consumers to see how their driving habits affect fuel economy and is offering big bucks to find an entertaining way to do that.
Ford is offering software developers $50,000 in prize money for coming up with innovative smartphone apps that can take data from a vehicle's on-board computer and use it to coach consumers to drive more efficiently.
In essence, Ford wants the automotive equivalent of the Nike FuelBand, which, when strapped on, tracks walking, running and other activities, as well as how many calories are burned. Results can then be tracked on a smartphone app.
Ford will begin taking applications for the Personalized Fuel-Efficiency App Challenge on April 23. The contest will be open for about three months.
The contest connects two of Ford's current themes -- fuel economy and smart technology -- in marketing vehicles to eco-aware, tech-savvy consumers. It also, not coincidentally, could take some of the heat off Ford and other automakers whose vehicles don't always deliver the miles per gallon promised by the window sticker.
Too often, automakers say, lead-footed drivers don't realize that their driving habits can mean the difference between an EPA rating of 44 mpg and a real-world 35 mpg.