Running Data

What do Audi and Florian Gschwandtner have in common? For one thing, the vision of a digital, service-oriented ecosystem. What myAudi is to one, Runtastic is to the other: an exciting future. We talked with Florian Gschwandtner about the serviceoriented mentality, networked mobility and smart sneakers.

Jan Rentzow (copy), Carlos Fernandez Laser (photo)

Traffic online: One of the many useful Audi connect services is the online traffic information. Reports of congestion are received practically in real time and alternative routes are suggested in a flash if they’ll speed up the trip.

He goes running three times a week, if not more. His distance: 6.27 kilometers, which he completes in 28 to 31 minutes. His mission: to help people live more active, conscious and healthy lives, and to live longer. To do that, Florian Gschwandtner, the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Runtastic, has created an ecosystem of software and hardware tools that “picks up users at whatever point they’re at on their fitness journey.” How? With networking. And data analysis. All as customer-centric as possible. In an Audi A4 equipped with Audi connect*, we joined Gschwandtner on his way to his running route in his hometown of Linz, Austria. Taking online traffic information into account, the navigation system predicts a 17-minute journey—plenty of time to start our interview.

myAudi: myAudi is both the backbone and control center for Audi connect. Drivers can use a compatible PC or the myAudi app to manage their Audi connect services and configure them for their personal needs.

Audi Magazine: Mr. Gschwandtner, Audi connect links the car with its driver and his or her world. Do you think being online makes driving less stressful?

Florian Gschwandtner: Yes, absolutely. It’s a great help in using time effectively. And time is a very precious commodity these days. We all know that you can neither buy it nor get it back once it’s gone. That’s why intelligent networking is increasingly becoming a quality criterion for cars. For me, connec­tivity in a car is already more important than anything else. Right now, we’re listening to Spotify. The app on my phone is my car radio.

Audi considers itself a trailblazer in mobility, while Runtastic is taking running online. At the end of the day, don’t we all share the same goal?

By and large, that’s true. At Runtastic, we offer an ecosystem of services for all things related to running. Audi does something similar with driving. That changes people’s habits.­ Runners now take their phones with them to record their achievements and improve their performance. Audi is no different. En route from A to B, Audi enriches the trip with relevant data that is genuinely useful or fun, makes life easier, and that drivers are happy to accept into their lives. And this is just the beginning. Neither Audi nor Runtastic can afford to stop driving development forward.

And where are we heading?

To be honest, it’s difficult to provide a global view. One thing is for certain: It will be about turning the information that will best serve you in your exact situation at a particular moment in time into completely new services.

Florian Gschwandtner’s route now stretches before us. Running shoes are firmly retied. Earphones in place. Runtastic app activated. Running has many facets for Gschwandtner. For starters, he says, he’s continually gaining new insights into his own body. And sensing where his limits are. In collaboration with his partner adidas, which bought Runtastic for 220 million euros in 2015, he develops smart gadgets that help people achieve their sports goals even better. After starting his run, he checks whether he locked the Audi A4 via the Audi MMI connect app. All set! He’s off. Only about 30 minutes remain for the rest of our conversation.



Audi MMI connect App: The Audi MMI connect app interfaces between myAudi and the car. It lets you call up information about fuel or charge levels or your last parking spot as well as control various remote services such as locking or unlocking the car.

Audi smartphone interface: The Audi smartphone interface brings Apple Car Play and Android Auto on board. Smartphone content from navigation, phone and music services as well as selected apps such as Spotify appear on the MMI Display with the familiar smartphone operating logic.

So technology will become a partner?

Yes. While it provides new, more convenient and user-friendly services, the complex technical aspects are fading into the background. Service and ease of use are paramount.


What has surprised you most in the last few years as the world has gone digital?

The speed! How fast everything has developed. And how quickly people have adapted. I grew up on a farm not far from Linz. Even my 64-year-old father has a handle on the new devices—that’s how simple and intuitive they are.

Are developments still continuing to pick up speed?

In my opinion, yes. And high-quality data is growing in importance because it offers greater accuracy. Runtastic wouldn’t work without it. Cars will also exchange information with each other and with the environment far more. As I see it, the one thing that no one has truly mastered yet is high-quality data analysis. I believe that data science will be key in the coming years—for the automotive industry, e-commerce, everything.


What exactly will that mean for Runtastic?

To give you an example: My running shoes will indicate that they need replacing. What’s more, since the system has tracked my gait and the places I’ve been running, it will also suggest a suitable new pair—in my size and favorite color, of course. And, as a bonus just for me, I’ll be offered a discount that I can claim with one click. The next day, my new shoes will be at my front door. That’s the ultimate in innovative service. I believe that great service is what truly sets a business apart.


How would that translate to the automotive world?

Think big! Carmakers need to open up their networks to other services. They should ask themselves how e-commerce, home entertainment, the Internet of Things and a car could interact. Nowadays, my fridge can tell me that I’m out of orange juice. In the future, my car, or better, my network, may be able to suggest where I should go to buy some more. And while it’s at it, it can show me the best way to fit the stop into my commute to work. Thinking big means pushing boundaries. Isolated solutions no longer make sense.


Could you get your father to drive a car like this?

Once he got inside, he would probably be delighted to find that everything automatically links to the network. My dad is a real animal lover, so if a car could tell him, “there’s a deer, there’s an eagle and over there are five rabbits in a field,” he would never want to drive any other kind of car again.

* The Audi connect offerings and services can be configured via the optional MMI Navigation plus.

Audi A4 Avant fuel consumption urban/extra-urban/combined (in l/100 km): 7.9–4.5/5.5–3.4/6.4–3.8. CO2 emissions combined (in g/km): 147–99. Where stated in ranges, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and efficiency classes depend on tires/wheels used.