Connected car tech to watch in 2014

Connected car tech to watch in 2014

Summary: Who are the key players and what are the top technologies to watch out for in the automotive industry this year?


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  • Infotainment: Apple's CarPlay

    Apple's CarPlay, announced earlier this year, is the first substantial move the tech giant has made in to the realm of transport.

    If an infotainment system is installed in a vehicle, it must work well. Unlike hooking your iPhone up as a music player, you will need to use it every time you drive, and so it must be intuitive, slick, and useful for the driver. 

    The iPad and iPhone maker's CarPlay system brings connectivity to cars as one of these systems -- using a custom iOS interface on your car's interactive dashboard to display maps, navigation data, traffic updates, and content from iTunes and audio applications. In addition, you will be able to use Siri to voice command the system -- or through a button on the steering wheel -- so users can make calls, listen to and send messages.

    Third-party apps, including Spotify and iHeartRadio, are also supported. CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. 

    Car manufacturers that plan to release CarPlay in the future include BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Jaguar, Kia, Toyota and Nissan. 

    Read on:

    Image credit: Apple

  • Google contributions: Infotainment and autonomous technology

    A potential alternative to Apple's CarPlay -- and not one that is so surprising -- is what could be an Android-based infotainment system developed by Google. In a job advertisement posted this year by Mercedes' parent firm Daimier, a software engineer was requested to assist in implementing Google's system, apparently dubbed "Google Projected Mode" within vehicles.

    The job ad described the system as software to "seamlessly integrate" Android devices in to a car's interactive dashboard, stating that the infotainment system would be used for "media content, sending messages, receiving phone calls and navigation."

    At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, the tech giant also announced the launch of an Open Automotive Alliance to develop such a system. According to the company, the alliance includes automakers such as Audi, GM and Honda.

    In addition to the development of a rival infotainment system, we cannot forget Google's research in to autonomous vehicles. Google's self-driving car initiative has been in motion for some time, with tests on city streets being conducted around the congested streets of California this year. Lasers, GPS data and navigational software are used to prevent the car from colliding with obstacles.

    See alsoGoogle's self-driving car project tackles city streets

    Image credit: Mercedes

Topics: Emerging Tech, Apple, Google

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  • Dumb screen

    a dumb screen (or a basic infotainment system which connects to all mobile devices), similar to Mirror Link seems the best bet going forward.

    The car infotainment system usually has to last between 10 and 20 years, which means that if it runs today'y apps, it is going to be pretty useless in 5 years time. Offering the basics plus an interface into connected devices seems the best way forward. No smart device, you get the basics, if you have a smart device, you get your newest apps - no point having Spotify etc. if the service isn't there in 5 or 10 years time.
    • i agree...

      The mirrorlink option does seem the best moving forward as it just feeds from whatever the device in your pocket is.

      I also like the look of the MS one the best - the big buttons etc seem more friendly for use in a car - and it uses mirrorlink.

      Corning actually did a couple of videos back around 2011 called 'a day made of glass' and the theory was what mirrorlink appears to be - the glass displays in your house/car/cupboard/window etc are powered from your personal device.
  • streaming made easy

    been waiting for something like this, where one can stream spotify through the dash rather than on a phone.
  • About time Apple catches up to Microsoft (Sync, MyFordTouch) and others

    Still, the technology can help or hinder - it depends on the use to which it is put.
  • Has nobody learned from use of cellphone in car dangers????

    I mean, really now, the dangers of distraction when using any mobile device in an auto when one is supposed to be driving have been SO well publicized, how in the world can the auto makers justify continuing down the "Mobile infotainment slippery slope"??? Have to wonder how long before legislation begins to appear that limits "other distractive devices" in a driving machine. Now, I DO realize they are SUPPOSED to be to accommodate PASSENGERS, but reality is that drivers will definitely use them for personal "purposes" anyway..... At least in US (can't speak for Charlie's native locale) the number of single passenger (AKA driver only) autos FAR exceed numbers of ones with any passengers.
    Add to that the as yet unknown costs related to keeping such installations "current", with software/firmware updates, new maps, security patches, etc., and one really should think a lot about these "systems", and not adopt them blindly (lest they be blindsided, down the road...).
    • It's not really as bad as you suspect...

      and I already have Ford Sync in my SUV, and it really helps in removing the distractions when one uses the voice activated controls. I don't have to be looking at the screen, and I don't even have to touch my smartphone to make phone calls or to receive them.

      The expectation is that, the in-car infotainment systems will be capable of deactivating any apps and equipment that would be a distraction, such as texting.
  • I'm just curious about how this will play out

    given that the mass market users who will first be most interested in this functionality will already be heavily committed to other devices to one or another of the "ecosystems". Escapes how any Android owner with hundreds or thousands of dollars invested in other screens, would even test drive an Apple car, and of course the reverse. The app and subscription ecosystem a customer walks into the dealership with will be a dealbreaker, unless carmakers find a way to manage it.
    • One day, I suspect customers will balk over more and more subscriptions

      Leases, loans, etc, seem nice upfront... but people probably don't want to be tethered to leases all the time, after a certain point...
  • MyFordTouch and Sync been around for some time

    Why be Apple-centric? Especially when more people use Android devices. Even Sync will work with those systems fairly fluidly... but like Apple's walled garden, Microsoft's systems are going to be tied in mostly with Microsoft's walled garden as well. "Ecosystem" sounds more like a slur on a real ecosystem (nature, not manmade plastic trash that is poorly disposed of, hurting nature, we we need nature more than we need our manmade economy...)

    Also, "tech" and trying to sound hip is an epic fail. Or assuming the target audience market is under the age of 6.
  • Ford QNX

    I was under the impression that Ford was looking at QNX (Blackberry) for their next version of Infotainment? Or maybe that just means the underpinnings of their next system ..
    Either way almost all systems will have QNX running it in one way or the other...
    I have a New Ford Focus, and I love my Sync system. Yes, I have had to do some upgrades to get it to work properly all the time, but it seems much more stable now, and can be a great hands-free help calling people, making music choices, changing the temperature, using the navigation system, etc ...
    I just wish that it would integrate into my Google Now system ... but hopefully that is coming with AppLink.
  • CarPlay augments IVI; It is not a replacement

    Until recently, hooking your phone with in-car systems was very specific to the host IVI. Using phone features with the car IVI was not always trivial.

    CarPlay strives to solve this problem. It provides a common user experience for the phone integration features, viz. Calling, Music, Mapping, etc. That is, for using the phone calling or music or mapping features from the phone, you don't have to learn every car's UI. Instead you see a familiar interface everywhere when you plug your phone.

    CarPlay limits itself to bringing simplicity for using phone features. IVI systems provide many more features. This enables the OEM's and Tier 1's to continue to differentiate their branding through the IVI while providing a standard phone interface through CarPlay. The strategy seems to be best of both the worlds.
    Manish Jalan