Citing research from Foresters that “50% of North Americans who plan to buy cars in the next 12 months say that technology options will play an important role in their purchasing decisions”, Tina Jeffrey has provided some insight as to what automakers will need to do to address the growing consumer demand for car connectivity. In the QNX Auto Blog Jeffrey focuses on three key factors:
- “Allow consumers to bring in content and apps on their mobile devices” – Jeffrey points out that a smartphone driven head unit has many benefits, including cost, and leveraging the connectivity and apps already present on the device, thus eliminating the need for built in head unit connectivity; I see this as being analagous to the BlackBerry Bridge technology introduced with the PlayBook.
- “Design in-vehicle systems to be compatible with all leading smartphones” – Jeffrey notes “To satisfy this requirement, the vehicle must support both proprietary and standards-based connectivity protocols, using Bluetooth, USB, and Wi-Fi. Automakers will need to deliver platforms that include support for CarPlay, iPod Out (for older Apple devices), DLNA (for BlackBerry phones and other devices), MirrorLink, and Miracast, as well as the solution that the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) promises to reveal later this year.” According to MirrorLink, “MirrorLink™ (previously known as Terminal Mode) solves this problem by offering seamless connectivity between a smartphone and the car infotainment system. Drivers just connect the phone with a cable and immediately gain access to phone applications via the car’s navigation screen and dashboard/steering-wheel buttons.In other words, by allowing consumers to access their smartphone in the same way they access their car radio and other controls, MirrorLink lets drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.” The beauty of the MirrorLink solution, however, is that it is based on establish, non-proprietary technologies: “MirrorLink is based on a set of well established, non-proprietary technologies. It uses standard Internet technologies (such as Internet Protocol) for compatibility with a wide range of devices. It also uses technologies already common in the car, such as Bluetooth™ and USB, and newly-introduced car technologies such as Wi-Fi as well. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP™) facilitates controlled access to applications. Virtual Network Computing (VNC™) replicates the phone’s display on the navigation screen and communicates user prompts back to the phone. In addition to Bluetooth™, MirrorLink™ streams audio with Real-Time Protocol (RTP).”
- “Leverage and enable the mobile development community to build the apps consumers want” – Jeffry notes that given the introduction of Apple and Google in the car infotainment space that there will be native app development but stresses the importance of supporting HTML5 based cross platform development. See Jeffry’s article on what HTML5 will mean to the auto industry for the long term.
So, what does this mean for QNX? As we know, Apple’s CarPlay UI works alongside BlackBerry’s QNX Car Platform; Mark Boyadjis, manager of Infotainment and HMI systems at IHS Automotive indicates that by 2020, 25 million CarPlay-enabled In Vehicle Infotainment systems will be sold: “So there’s significant growth, but 25 million units is still only 25% of the cars that will be sold, so it’s not reaching critical mass even by the end of this decade”. Nonetheless, this still bodes well for QNX and its flexible framework which supports multiple development environments. According to QNX “With support for HTML5, Qt, and industry-standard .apk apps executing alongside the built-in HMI, the QNX CAR Platform supports the industry’s broadest cross-platform mobile development environments, allowing OEMs to leverage a variety of apps from the consumer electronics space. ” IHS notes that QNX is currently the leader in the infotainment space with 53% per cent share of units in 2013; they do however point out that Linux based GENIVI platform could pose a significant challenge over the next few years.
Personally, this just makes me appreciate even more the fact that BB10 is based on QNX.