IMS Research forecasts the market for Wi-Fi in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) automotive applications will increase eight fold over the next seven years in North America and Western Europe.
While the Wi-Fi attach rates in North America and Western Europe are still relatively low with only a small number of manufacturers announcing the inclusion of Wi-Fi as a standard or as an optional extra, it is likely that Wi-Fi will follow a similar trend to Bluetooth, meaning over the next seven years attach rates in new cars will ramp up quickly. Historically, Wi-Fi was not considered for in-car applications, however, several factors have come into play which are creating a significant opportunity for Wi-Fi automotive applications.
First, Wi-Fi has transitioned from being primarily a PC networking technology to a more ubiquitous connectivity solution with a strong presence in a broad range of consumer electronics. While smartphones are the obvious example, eReaders, tablets, portable games consoles and portable media players are among the many consumer electronic devices to incorporate Wi-Fi.
In addition, the introduction of Wi-Fi Direct (Wi-Fi with the ability to make a peer-to-peer connection) has helped the industry realise Wi-Fi can be used for much more than just networking. This has created an opportunity for specific automotive applications. The most likely Wi-Fi in-car use cases are; in-car hotspots, wireless screen duplication, tethering, wireless car diagnostics and wireless software upgrading.
Secondly, Bluetooth high speed never materialised. This left a gap in the automotive industry that needed to be filled. But it wasn't until 100 percent attach rates in smartphones and Wi-Fi Direct, that Wi-Fi was considered to fill the void that Bluetooth high speed left.
Filomena Berardi, senior analyst and author of the recently published The Wireless Car had the following thoughts: "The uptake of Wi-Fi in vehicles will be fairly aggressive. OEMs see great opportunities for the applications discussed above. In addition, the recent Wi-Fi Alliance announcement regarding Wi-Fi Miracast, is very exciting. Some in the industry see this being used in conjunction with MirrorLink for wireless screen duplication."
She went on to say: "There's even talk of using Wi-Fi for camera modules and many other interesting in-car applications. These will all further drive demand by OEMs to include Wi-Fi as standard or as an optional extra. All in all, the future for Wi-Fi in the car is very promising."
Wi-Fi in the car is at the beginning of its journey and in spite of this promising start and potential – nothing in the automotive industry is straight forward.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.