Uninterrupted access to e-mail and instant messaging, along with a steady stream of news, entertainment and social media status updates, is an expectation in both home and office environments. Now such connectivity is extending to life on the go, including on wheels. The challenge is to enable the connected lifestyle on the road while ensuring that safety and reliability remain the foremost concerns.
Considering the amount of time people spend stuck in traffic each year, the need for technologies that help make journeys more productive is clear. In-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems are expanding in scope well beyond entertainment and are already emerging as key solutions with regard to safety, security and efficiency.
Today, IVI systems offering Internet connectivity in the car provide features such as live traffic updates that notify drivers of traffic problems ahead. Tomorrow, we’ll see highly integrated intelligent transportation systems that seamlessly communicate with individual vehicles and the transportation infrastructure to make travel safer, greener and more convenient.
For instance, a single Intel Atom processor can provide simultaneous support for a variety of driver and passenger applications. For example, the driver can use 3-D navigation and hands-free cell phone functions while the passengers watch a video or access information on their destination.
|The groundwork is being done to enable highly integrated transportation systems that seamlessly communicate with individual vehicles and the transportation infrastructure|
Next-generation IVI systems will be able to push e-mails from your smartphone to your car’s multimedia screen and read them to you, or transfer video content from your home TV to your car. In-car applications, voice-controlled instant messaging and social networking, and efficient to-do lists that track progress are other features we can expect to see. Until now, we could only imagine a world where our cars would navigate us through a crowded parking garage to the nearest available parking space.
A safe and intuitive interface is important to reducing driver distraction when rolling out such features and services. It has been observed that regardless of public service statements on the matter and even government regulation, the use of texting and other services on phones while driving is increasing. In fact, in some states where bans are in force, usage and accidents are higher, since drivers look away from the windshield and view their phone screens under the dash to avoid being seen violating the law. Perhaps the only long-term solution is autonomous driving, but that is quite a long way off.
In the meantime, it is likely we will see new approaches to managing this kind of communication, with interfaces such as voice, physical button touch, gesture recognition and handwriting recognition using touchpads. All of these technologies have limitations today, but when combined holistically they hold promise.
The connected car comes in many flavors, varying from a connected phone or iPod to a fully integrated system with data connectivity at all times. A connected phone (simply supporting Bluetooth in the vehicle head unit) will enable many emerging apps in the car. But preventing distracted driving and increasing safety are of value to consumers, and smartphones require touchscreen controls that are impossible to operate while drinking coffee and navigating increasingly deteriorating roads.
Recently, two of the first IVI-equipped production cars hit the streets in China, with IVI systems powered by Intel Atom processors and running the MeeGo operating system. The HawTai B11 sedan and the Geely EC825 car deliver a connected experience for drivers and passengers, including navigation, entertainment, and Internet services and applications. Real-time traffic maps, online gaming, remote diagnostics and service notifications are some of the features available to drivers of these vehicles in China.