A low-end car likely will leverage third-party electronics and apps,
whereas a high-end car likely will continue to design for and
provide services itself--perhaps partly to ensure a quality and
consistent customer experience.
"If you buy a $100,000 BMW, and your Bluetooth connectivity doesn't
work perfectly, you're going to be upset," said Rob Passaro, head of
BMW's apps center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Mark Spain, who listed his title as Telematics Leadership for
Verizon, said "lots of" different business models will happen
Verizon is trying to position itself as the wireless network for the
connected car. For example, it's looking at ways that consumers can
simply add their "car" to their data plan in the future, according
But there are business opportunities beyond extracting subscription
dollars from consumers. Take vehicle data.
"The 4G LTE network that we architected allows for multiple data
streams to happen at the same time," Spain said. There's an
opportunity to figure out how to monetize the car's data because
there's "lots of value for the dealer network, to the manufacturing
process, for engineering, R&D process and even further
"That data can be extracted real time. You can imagine the value to
the automotive industry," he added.
An additional challenge is technology evolution. Traditional
automotive design cycles are five to seven years. But if the sexiest part of
the vehicle is is the infotainment system (where technologies change
rapidly), there's a mismatch.
"Nothing ages faster than the infotainment system. Nothing," Passaro
said. "We want to change that. We want that to be the freshest
experience or product part of your car experience." BMW has started
to address this with embedded browsers and data connection that had
so-so performance but have evolved and gotten better, he added.
For semiconductor engineers, it's all good and all upside. For
systems engineers, just what constitutes the infotainment and
communications systems will continue to be a moving target for years
Well, some of these supposed new ideas have actually come, and occasionally gone too! For instance, we used to have a combined Verizon Wireless account for our 3G cell phones and for OnStar, but someone, either OnStar or Verizon, decided to quit that plan. Separate bills now.
By the way, I'm not sure what people assume when they hear about OnStar, but it's more than just getting an operator in an emergency. Aside from telephone, emergency, and directions to a destination, it also monitors multiple onboard systems and provides you with a status report every so often. Certainly, such functionality can only increase over time, yes? More on-board sensors, for ever more remote diagnostics. This can already be done in real time, if they choose to do so. Whether it continues to be called "OnStar," or some other fancy moniker.
Also, 3G and even 2G networks can also "allow for multiple data streams to happen at the same time," as far as that goes.
Moving targets are great for systems engineers or any other kind of engineer. Keeps you on your toes, and never a dull moment.
Take a look at the 2013 Motor Trend car of the year if you want to see the best Silicon Valley can do in infotainment, comms, diagnostics and car configuration. Nobody's done anything like Tesla''s 17" console in a production vehicle.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.