Fantastic article (ESPECIALLY the diagram), congratulations Junko! This is going to help us greatly in "following the news" when we get announcements about new technologies and alliances in this field. There's still loads of questions, for example it sounds as if Ford's announcement about Blackberry seems to suggest that the underlying OS for their development will be QNX or something a lot like it, then there's open-source Android and maybe iOS itself (or a tailored variant) to the extent Apple decides to license it. Do we know yet if there are others in the lead? Is GM meeting their need for an OS with something that was already underlying their legacy OnStar system, would that be flexible enough for all these new demands, do we have any clues which other brands are already committed to the OSes I already mentioned? Again, fascinating stuff, now we have a roadmap into the development of a whole new generation of mobile connectivity, this should be quite a show!
I'm really surprised that car dashboards are taking this complicated route. It seems like they are in the awkward fledgeling stage that tablets and smart phones were at several years ago. I don't have an optimal solution, but it seems like eventually they'll have to begin to settle into a few more organized systems like the smartphones generally have.
Agreed with you and with Rick's comment about "agnostic." The image I get is of a separate group in the auto companies, frantically looking for that magic app combination to attract the smartphone crowd (who are reportedly not buying cars as previous generations were), while the other designers are busy doing the "real work." Is that just being cynical?
"Real work" would include the interdisciplinary efforts, involving drive trains, aerodynamics, and engine designs, to meet the much more stringent fuel economy mandates being phased in, for example. Not to mention California's zero emissions mandates.
Remember when kids were more interested in hearing about DOHC and hemispherical heads?
The image I get is of a separate group in the auto companies, frantically looking for that magic app combination to attract the smartphone crowd (who are reportedly not buying cars as previous generations were), while the other designers are busy doing the "real work." Is that just being cynical?
No, you are not being cynical. That's exactly where car OEMs are at today. Things need to settle down, get sorted out -- technically speaking.
@caleb, you wrote: It seems like they are in the awkward fledgeling stage
Exactly. The situation is even worse for the carmakers, though. Because on one hand they want to look cool by associating their brand with whatever the best selling smartphone is, and yet, on the other, they are pulled into too many different directions. (much worse than when tablets and smartphones were at several years ago)
I almost hate to say it, but I think an industry standard "Car OS" (based on linux of course), wouldn't be a bad thing at all. There's no reason it couldn't interface fluidly with all the smart phones out there. The reason I think Linux is an obvious winner here is the ability for all the car companies to modify/customize all the bits that don't have to be part of the standard.
Good luck getting them all to agree on an industry standard though. Also, this obviously isn't meant to replace the operational side of the car's computing, only the human interface/amusement side.
Hmmm, kind of wish I'd seen the other article first. Not sure what they're trying to do is all that straightforward, and the premise of apps is they're generally "single-purpose programs with a simple function" but if the consumer gets confused they don't buy if they can't understand whether they're getting the right thing. Seems maybe they ought to start with something more like a "GoToMeeting" (remote "desktop") approach and build from there. The other problem with multiple levels of APIs is experience shows it's not just more complex but nearly impossible to maintain security on a system like that with multiple providers.
I will be buying a new car in the fall...sincerely hope it will not have any of these features installed...I have enough IT work with my phones, TVs, laptops etc...to handle, integrate, secure and debug my car would require me to quite my full time job...Kris
The issue of the user interface for a driver who is new to a car is one that must be revisited. As a frequent traveler, I often get introduced to my new car in a dark rental car parking lot when I'm hungry and want to get to the hotel. Already I have to figure out which headlight switch standard has been adopted (dial on the dashboard or stick on the steering column). I also have to figure out how to quickly quench the radio (they typically seem to be set to full blast on an unwanted station). And of course at the end of the trip I have to figure out where the gas cap door release lever is hidden (glove compartment, driver's door, under the steering wheel, or on the floor) to avoid being soaked for rental gar gas refill fees. The dashboard controls, however, are a world in themselves. As a hybrid driver at home, I like to see the miles per gallon displayed. Finding that display can be quite a challenge between pushing buttons on the dashboard display and the steering wheel and on the radio panel. I think that we need to think about a standard convenient user interface and get out of the arcane series of undocumented up / down / right / left clicks that are required to gain basic information. I'm a great fan of Apple products, they are very intuitive - once you know the trick. They can be challenging to navigate until you know "the answer". Unless we can select our operating system at startup, the day may come when we'll have endorsements on our licenses for the type of vehicles that we're trained to drive (only Apple for me or Android for you).
@DrQuine, damn, this is such a good read! You described all the confusion every rental car driver goes through with such vivid details. I was nodding all the way through when I was reading the comment.
Then, at the very end, you wrote:
Unless we can select our operating system at startup, the day may come when we'll have endorsements on our licenses for the type of vehicles that we're trained to drive (only Apple for me or Android for you).
Jeez. That's exactly what car OEMs are now setting themselves up to, isn't it?
The confusion related to the placement of various controls differently by different car manufacturers , based upon what OS they are latched onto, can be avoided if their is some govt. standard on the ergononomics of the vital controls - the headlights, the turn signal blinkers, the hazard warning push button, the wiper control lever and so on.
Like the basic things as Brake, Accerlarator and clutch have a standard placement in any car you drive ( except when it is left hand vs right hand), these basic things also need to be placed uniformly on whatever HMI is being used by whatever car maker.
The rest of the jazzy things related to infotainment can be placed freeky as per the HMI designer's choice.
Even with today's simple dashboards , I get confused between my car and may daughter's car - just because the wiper control lever and the turn signal lever have been swapped ( GM Opel Vs Honda Brio). It creates a confusion right in the middle of the traffic !