Proprietary and open platforms compete in automotive infotainment systems

Date: 11/07/2013
While the automotive infotainment systems take off in a big way, the software platforms from different vendors and groups powering the infotainment systems compete for the higher market-share. During these days when multimedia information consoles have invaded the dash-board space of the car, the driver's interface with the car and infotainment devices need some standards where safety and comfort is the criteria. 90% of accidents are said to be caused by driver error and today's driver loaded with gadgets around him. Keeping the driver not distracted is one of the important part of the infotainment interface system.

Open source software such as MirrorLink and GENIVI is finding increased use by many automotive companies. Android and Apple iOS are also explored by many vehicle manufacturers for infotainment systems. Renault's R-Link and Volvo's Sensus Connected Touch platform based on Parrot’s Asteroid Smart are based on Android OS. Human-machine Interface expert Apple is granted with patents covering human-machine interfaces to improve car instrumentation and telematics. Ford's SYNC based on the Microsoft's Windows CE operating system supports up to 10,000 voice commands with no training is required to recognise voice commands.

There are various proprietary standards each car OEM use. The proprietary QNX is popular right now both in luxury cars as well as general cars. Also popular is Microsoft’s Embedded Automotive platform. Industry is also exploring open eco over proprietary for easy interoperability with mobile devices. “At stake is whether the in-vehicle infotainment system remains a proprietary system controlled by a few OEMs, becomes an open eco-system nurtured by an international developer community, or whether connectivity, processing, and service delivery resides in the phone and is controlled by the mobile phone industry,” commented Gareth Owen, principal analyst. ABI Research has forecasted that the number of MirrorLink and GENIVI car connected automotive infotainment systems will increase from around 10,000 at the end of 2012 to 27.9 million in North America, Western Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region by the end of 2018. “GENIVI has strong support in the automotive industry but Apple’s imminent entry into the car space is a real threat for MirrorLink unless it can gain traction quickly. MirrorLink really needs to launch its version 1.1 quickly and get as many handset vendors as possible to introduce MirrorLink v1.1 compatible devices,” added Owen.


However when it comes to security, the open source is venerable. The automotive OEMs need to add further security layers while they use open source for car infotainment systems.

There are also couple of automotive specific connection standards emerged for high-speed data connectivity, they include MOST (Media-Oriented Systems Transport) and BroadR-Reach from Broadcom and MyFi from Delphi. MOST is the standard for multimedia and infotainment networking, which allows connection of multiple devices such as DVD players, video display units, navigation systems, Bluetooth/WiFi devices and voice microphones to simultaneously operate on a single in-vehicle network. BroadR-Reach is Ethernet like twisted-pair wiring standard from Broadcom to connect multiple devices in a car over a twisted pair cable supporting 100Mb data speed. The old and reliable Ethernet is well explored for connectivity inside the car. The wireless connectivity technology MyFi from Delphi leverages wireless standards such as LTE, GSM, CDMA, WiFi, Bluetooth. Along with connecting to portable media devices, MyFi links data from vehicle safety sensors to alert the driver from committing driving errors.

The market for car infotainment systems is growing fast. To update you on the market research data on infotainment systems, the shipments of connected automotive infotainment systems is forecasted to grow from 9 million in 2013 to more than 62 million in 2018 with connected navigation, multimedia streaming, social media, and in-car Wi-Fi hotspots becoming key features. There are enormous number of application which can be tailored for automotive infotainment systems.

Ford contributed in-car smartphone app interface, to the GENIVI Alliance. Ford to establish a new open-source GENIVI project, with a Ford engineer maintaining the project. The project will contain all of the code and documentation required to implement the AppLink software into the vehicle audio system head unit to enable two-way communications with Google Android and Apple iOS devices. Navigation services provider Telenav and embedded software development firm Luxoft have committed to contribute supporting code to the new SmartPhoneLink projects.

Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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