Tourmaline Labs: Generating Rich Driver Analytics

Dr. Lukas Kuhn, CTO, Tourmaline LabsDr. Lukas Kuhn, CTO
Tourmaline Labs has established itself as a major player in the transportation telematics space. Since its inception, Tourmaline has developed a unique line of smartphone-based software solutions for collecting and analyzing telematics data. By using the company’s APIs, telematics software, developers can incorporate powerful data collection and analytics into their mobile products. And, unlike comparable solutions, Tourmaline’s patented technology does not significantly reduce a smartphone’s battery life through heavy reliance on GPS data.

With an ever-increasing list of telematics software providers incorporating Tourmaline’s APIs into their applications, smartphones are rapidly replacing costly hardware-based telematics solutions. “We originally started off with instrumenting the smartphone to get to the point where we could mimic some of the data that is generated by alternative solutions, such as hardware solutions that plug into the vehicle,” says Dr. Lukas Kuhn, CTO, Tourmaline. “We came to the point where we really mastered that craft, and got the smartphone to a state that is on par with boxes that are installed on the vehicle.”

Today, Tourmaline targets developers in a variety of industries, including fleet management and insurance. According to Kuhn, the company’s approach taps the power of artificial intelligence and big data to help extract meaningful data that companies can use to make decisions. “We leverage big data to truly understand the behavior of drivers, so we don’t have to rely on handcrafted rules such as three hard brakes within 100 miles being the threshold that determines whether you are an aggressive driver.

“A downtown may be different than an urban area. Handcrafting these rules quickly reaches its limits, so we see overcoming that problem as the key challenge. What we are doing is utilizing the underlying data to come up with the right way of analyzing the same data.

We use a data-driven approach that feeds off artificial intelligence, signal processing, machine learning, and biometrics to learn the correct interpretation from the data set

We use a data-driven approach that feeds off artificial intelligence, signal processing, machine learning, and biometrics to learn the correct interpretation from the data set.”

In other words, by using big data and AI, the company has developed products that can learn and adapt to a driver’s behavior, rather than simply running off of pre-written programming instructions.

A key factor in the Tourmaline methodology is improving the general understanding of transportation, which consumes a significant amount of people’s time and resources. Kuhn hopes the products he and his company develops will help people to become more responsible and resourceful citizens, and that commutes become less stressful, more efficient, and more cost effective.

According to Kuhn, one of the key differentiators that sets Tourmaline apart from its competitors is that their products provide complete mass-scale solutions, which are ready to be incorporated into the customer’s application.

One such customer is an insurance company that was struggling to get useful data from growing data sets. Tourmaline processed the customer’s raw data through the Tourmaline analytics software, which provided the customer the information they needed in a form they could use. “We were able to win that contract. Together with them, we are launching one of the first telematic programs that is entirely based on the smartphone later this year.”

When asked what personal traits he possesses that helped shape his role within the company, Kuhn quickly pointed to his ability to listen and to be persistent. “Listening to the kind of challenges our customers are facing is part of the innovation process, and also being persistent in driving forward whatever came out of the listening process.”