Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It seems like only yesterday...

By Megan Alink, Director of Marketing Communications for Automotive

What were you doing on September 14, 1999? It was likely an inauspicious day for most people, but for QNX, the date represented our official entry into the automotive market:


Don’t get me wrong — QNX was no tentative newcomer on the scene. After all, we were marking almost two decades in the embedded software business. QNX OS technology was already powering mission-critical systems for credit card processing, energy generation, healthcare, mail sorting, precision manufacturing, mining, security, and warehouse automation worldwide. (Whew!) But it was time to take that reliability and flexibility to more markets, ones with needs similar to our existing customer base. Enter automotive. (And we did.)

Today, we are pleased to be able to say that QNX software is found in more than 60 million vehicles on the road. In telematics systems like OnStar. In infotainment services like Volkswagen's RNS 850 GPS navigation system and Ford SYNC 3. In the digital instrument clusters of the state-of-the-art Audi TT and Mercedes S-Class Coupé.

60 million is a very big number. Obviously, we wouldn’t have reached this milestone without the support of our Tier 1 customers who build QNX into their systems every day, the 40+ automakers who choose these QNX-based systems, and our ecosystem of automotive partners who enrich our offering with their market-leading innovations. We want to thank all of these companies for the exciting and challenging opportunities they give us. Here’s to the next 60 million!

Monday, June 29, 2015

The A to Z of QNX in cars

Over 26 fast facts, brought to you by the English alphabet

Paul Leroux
A is for Audi, one of the first automakers to use QNX technology in its vehicles. For more than 15 years, Audi has put its trust in QNX, in state-of-the-art systems like the Audi virtual cockpit and the MIB II modular infotainment system. A is also for QNX acoustics software, which enhances hands-free voice communications, eliminates “boom noise” created by fuel-saving techniques, and even helps automakers create signature sounds for their engines.

B is for Bentley, BMW, and Buick, and for their QNX-powered infotainment systems, which include BMW ConnectedDrive and Buick Intellilink.

C is for concept vehicles, including the latest QNX technology concept car, a modded Maserati Quattroporte GTS. The car integrates an array of technologies — including cameras, LiDAR, ultrasonic sensors, and specialized navigation engines — to show how QNX-based ADAS systems can simplify driving tasks, warn of possible collisions, and enhance driver awareness.

D is for the digital instrument clusters in vehicles from Alpha Romeo, Audi, GM, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Land Rover. These QNX-powered displays can reconfigure themselves on the fly, providing quick, convenient access to turn-by-turn directions, back-up video, incoming phone calls, and a host of other information.

E is for experience. QNX has served the automotive market since the late 1990s, working with car makers and tier one suppliers to create infotainment systems for tens of millions of vehicles. QNX has been at work in safety-critical industrial applications even longer — since the 1980s. This unique pedigree makes QNX perfectly suited for the next generation of in-vehicle systems, which will consolidate infotainment and safety-related functions on a single, cost-effective platform.

F is for Ford, which has chosen the QNX Neutrino OS for its new SYNC 3 infotainment system. The system will debut this summer in the 2016 Ford Escape and Ford Fiesta and will be one of the first infotainment systems to support both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

G is for GM and its QNX-based OnStar system, which is now available in almost all of the company’s vehicles. GM also uses QNX OS and acoustics technology in several infotainment systems, including the award-winning Chevy MyLink.

H is for hypervisor. By using the QNX Hypervisor, automotive developers can consolidate multiple OSs onto a single system-on-chip to reduce the cost, size, weight, and power consumption of their designs. The hypervisor can also simplify safety certification efforts by keeping safety-related and non-safety-related software components isolated from each other.

I is for the ISO 26262 standard for functional safety in road vehicles. The QNX OS for Automotive Safety has been certified to this standard, at Automotive Safety Integrity Level D — the highest level achievable. This certification makes the OS suitable for a wide variety of digital clusters, heads-up displays, and ADAS applications, from adaptive cruise control to pedestrian detection.

J is for Jeep. The QNX reference vehicle, based on a Jeep Wrangler, showcases what the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment can do out of the box. In its latest iteration, the reference vehicle ups the ante with traffic sign detection, lane departure warnings, curve speed warnings, collision avoidance alerts, backup displays, and other ADAS features for enhancing driver awareness.

K is for Kia, which uses QNX technology in the infotainment and connectivity systems for several of its vehicles.

L is for LG, a long-time QNX customer that is using several QNX technologies to develop a new generation of infotainment systems, digital clusters, and ADAS systems for the global automotive market.

M is for Mercedes-Benz, which offers QNX-based infotainment systems in several of its vehicles, including the head unit and digital instrument cluster in the S Class Coupe. M is also for market share: according to IHS Automotive, QNX commands more than 50% of the infotainment software market.

N is for navigation. Thanks to the navigation framework in the QNX CAR Platform, automakers can integrate a rich variety of navigation solutions into their cars.

O is for the over-the-air update solution of the BlackBerry IoT Platform, which will help automakers cut maintenance costs, reduce expensive recalls, improve customer satisfaction, and keep vehicles up to date with compelling new features long after they have rolled off the assembly line.

P is for partnerships. When automotive companies choose QNX, they also tap into an incredibly rich partner ecosystem that provides infotainment apps, smartphone connectivity solutions, navigation engines, automotive processors, voice recognition engines, user interface tools, and other pre-integrated technologies. P is also for Porsche, which uses the QNX Neutrino OS in its head units, and for Porsche 911, which formed the basis of one of the first QNX concept cars.

Q is for the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment, a comprehensive solution that pre-integrates partner technologies with road-proven QNX software to jump-start customer projects.

R is for the reliability that QNX OS technology brings to advanced driver assistance systems and other safety-related components in the vehicle — the same technology proven in space shuttles, nuclear plants, and medical devices.

S is for the security expertise and solutions that Certicom and QNX bring to automotive systems. S is also for the advanced smartphone integration of the QNX CAR Platform, which allows infotainment systems to support the latest brought-in solutions, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. S is also for the scalability of QNX technology, which allows customers to use a single software platform across all of their product lines, from high-volume economy vehicles to luxury models. And last, but not least, S is for the more than sixty million vehicles worldwide that use QNX technology. (S sure is a busy letter!)

T is for Toyota, which uses QNX technology in infotainment systems like Entune and Touch ‘n’ Go. T is also for tools: using the QNX Momentics Tool Suite, automotive developers can root out subtle bugs and optimize the performance of their sophisticated, multi-core systems.

U is for unified user interface. With QNX, automotive developers can choose from a rich set of user interface technologies, including Qt, HTML5, OpenGL ES, and third-party toolkits. Better yet, they can blend these various technologies on the same display, at the same time, for the ultimate in design flexibility.

V is for the Volkswagen vehicles, including the Touareg, Passat, Polo, Golf, and Golf GTI, that use the QNX Neutrino OS and QNX middleware technology in their infotainment systems.

W is for the QNX Wireless Framework, which brings smartphone-caliber connectivity to infotainment systems, telematics units, and a variety of other embedded devices. The framework abstracts the complexity of modem control, enabling developers to upgrade cellular and Wi-Fi hardware without having to rewrite their applications.

X, Y, and Z are for the 3D navigation solutions and the 3D APIs and partner toolkits supported by the QNX CAR Platform. I could show you many examples of these solutions in action, but my personal favorite is the QNX technology concept car based on a Bentley Continental GT. Because awesome.

Before you go... This post mentions a number of automotive customers, but please don’t consider it a complete list. I would have gotten them all in, but I ran out of letters!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Developing software for safety-critical systems? Have I got a book for you

Paul Leroux
Chris Hobbs is the only person I know who holds a math degree with a specialization in mathematical philosophy. In fact, before I met him, I didn’t know such a thing even existed. But guess what? That’s one of the things I really like about Chris. The more I hang out with him, the more I learn.

Come to think of it, helping people learn has become something of a specialty for Chris. He is, for example, a flying instructor and the author of Flying Beyond: The Canadian Commercial Pilot Textbook. And, as a software safety specialist at QNX Software Systems, he regularly provides advice to customers building systems that must comply with functional safety standards like IEC 61508, EN 5012x, and ISO 26262.

Chris has already written a number of papers on software safety, some of which I have had the great privilege to edit. You can find several of them on the QNX website. But recently, Chris upped the ante and wrote an entire book on the subject, titled Embedded Software Development for Safety-Critical Systems. The book:

  • covers the development of safety-critical systems under ISO 26262, IEC 61508, EN 50128, and IEC 62304
  • helps readers understand and apply remarkably esoteric development practices and be prepared to justify their work to external auditors
  • discusses the advantages and disadvantages of architectural and design practices recommended in the standards, including replication and diversification, anomaly detection, and so-called “safety bag” systems
  • examines the use of open-source components in safety-critical systems

I haven’t yet had a chance to review the book, but at 358 pages, it promises to be a substantial read.

Interested? Well, you can’t get the book just yet. But you can pre-order it today and get one of the first copies off the press. It’s scheduled for release September 1.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Concept Car mit QNX-Technologie feiert seinen Auftakt in Europa

Ein Gastbeitrag von Matthias Stumpf, Vertriebsleiter Automotive EMEA, QNX Software Systems
(Guest post from Matthias Stumpf, manager of automotive sales EMEA, QNX Software Systems)


Nachdem der Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, ein mit QNX-Technologie ausgestattetes Concept Car, in Nordamerika für Schlagzeilen gesorgt hat, wagt es nun für seine Europa-Tour den Sprung über den großen Teich. Startschuss ist auf dem Automobile Elektronik Kongress am 23. und 24. Juni in Ludwigsburg, wo das Auto zum ersten Mal in Europa ausgestellt wird.

Alle die den Mercedes in Aktion sehen wollen, sollten im Hauptfoyer des Kongresses vorbeischauen. Dort wird gezeigt, wie der Fahrer völlig natürlich und intuitiv mit dem im Auto verbauten Infotainment-System und den digitalen Instrumenten-Gruppen interagieren kann.

Eine extrabreite Head Unit
Das Auto verfügt über eine extrabreite Head Unit, die Fahrer und Beifahrer mit Hilfe detaillierter Grafiken und über ein durchgehendes 7 Zoll bis 21 Zoll großes Interface mit Informationen versorgt. Dank des nutzerorientierten Designs kann das Infotainment-System optional über den Touchscreen, physische Knöpfe, den Multifunktions-Controller oder via Sprachbefehl gesteuert werden. Das System basiert auf der QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment, einem umfangreichen Ökosystem, das bereits QNX-Software-Systems-Technologien und zahlreiche Partner integriert hat:

QNX 2014 technology concept car - infotainment system

Konfigurierbares Instrumente-Cluster
Das digitale Instrumente-Cluster kann dynamisch angepasst werden und zeigt Wegbeschreibungen in Echtzeit, eingehende Telefonanrufe, Videos der Front- und Heck-Bordkameras, Drehzahl- und Geschwindigkeitsmesser sowie weitere virtuelle Instrumente an. Via Tastendruck auf dem Lenkrad werden sogar empfangene Textnachrichten vorgelesen; so behält der Fahrer seine Augen auf der Straße:

QNX 2014 technology concept car - cluster

Darüber hinaus können mit der “virtuellen Bordmechanik” des Clusters Statusinformationen wie Reifendruck, Bremsverschleiß sowie Treibstoff-, Öl- und Scheibenwaschwasserstand abgerufen werden:



Wenn Sie an weiteren Informationen über die zahlreichen Features des Concept Cars interessiert sind, lesen Sie hier und hier unsere vorangegangenen Blogbeiträge.

Wir freuen uns, Sie in Ludwigsburg begrüßen zu dürfen! Alle weiteren Termine der Europa-Tour des Concept Cars erhalten Sie hier auf unserem Blog.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Digital instrument clusters and the road to autonomous driving

Guest post by Walter Sullivan, head of Innovation Lab, Silicon Valley, Elektrobit Automotive

Autonomous driving requires new user experience interfaces, always on connectivity, new system architectures and reliable security. In addition to these requirements, the real estate in the car is changing as we move towards autonomous driving, and the traditional display is being replaced by head up displays (HUD), digital instrument clusters, and other screens. The digital cluster is where automakers can blend traditional automotive status displays (such as odometer, speed, etc.) with safety features, entertainment, and navigation, providing a more personalized, safe, comfortable, and enjoyable driving experience.

For autonomous vehicles, the human-machine interface (HMI) will change with the level of autonomy. Until vehicles are fully autonomous, all the traditional functions of the in-car HMI must be covered and driver distraction needs to be minimized. As we progress through piloted drive towards full autonomy, additional functions are taking center stage in the instrument cluster: driver assistance (distance to vehicle in front, speed limit, optimized time to destination/fuel consumption, object detection, etc.).

The digital instrument cluster brings a number of benefits to the driver experience including:
  • Comfort: The more information that a driver has about the route, right before his or her eyes, the more comfortable the drive. Digital clusters that provide map data, not just routing guidance but information on the nearest gas station, traffic, upcoming toll roads, etc., give the most comfort by empowering the driver with the information needed to get to the destination quickly and safely.
  • Safety: Drivers benefit from cars that know what’s on the road ahead. Through electronic horizon-based features, clusters can display “predictive” driver-assistance information that delivers to the driver important messages regarding safety.
  • Entertainment: Consumers are looking for vehicles that allow them to transfer their digital lifestyle seamlessly into the driving experience. The cluster can enable such integration, allowing the driver to control a smartphone using the in-car system, stream music, make phone calls, and more.

As more software and technology enters the car and we move closer to the fully autonomous vehicle, the cluster will continue to be the main platform for HMI. Automakers are challenged to build the most user-friendly, personalized clusters they can, with today’s cars employing advanced visual controls that integrate 3D graphics and animation and even natural language voice control. Drivers will rely more heavily on the cluster to provide them information that ensures their safety and comfort during the ride.

Digital instrument cluster developed using EB technology, as shown in the QNX reference vehicle.

Curious about what this kind of technology looks like? Digital instrument clusters developed using Elektrobit (EB) Automotive software will be displayed at the QNX Software Systems (booth C92) during TU-Automotive Detroit, June 3-4. QNX will feature a demo cluster developed using EB GUIDE that integrates a simulated navigation route with EB street director, plus infotainment and car system data. You can also see EB technology in action in the QNX reference vehicle based on a Jeep Wrangler, in which EB street director and the award-winning EB Assist Electronic Horizon are both integrated in the digital cluster.


Walter Sullivan is head of Elektrobit (EB) Automotive’s newly established Silicon Valley Innovation Lab, responsible for developing and leading the company’s presence in Silicon Valley, as well as building and fostering strategic partnerships around the globe.

Visit Elektrobit here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Reimagining digital instrument cluster design

Guest post by Jason Clarke, vice president, sales and marketing, Crank Software

Technology in cars has been advancing at an impressive rate. From rich infotainment systems to intelligent digital instrument clusters, today’s automobile has evolved to become a cool reality that many of us only envisioned as a possibility a few years ago. But while the technology has changed, the driver has stayed the same. Drivers still need to get from point A to point B as efficiently and safely as possible, while perhaps listening to some favorite road trip tunes on the journey.

What has changed for drivers is the sheer volume of information that is available while behind the wheel. Today’s vehicle can tell you more than the fact that you are desperately in need of finding the nearest gas station. It’s smart enough to let you know when you are getting close to hitting the neighbor’s garbage can… again. It can alert you to traffic pattern changes, road hazards, inclement weather, your affinity to your lead foot, and to the fact that your spouse is texting you to remind you to pick up the dry cleaning. It can also effortlessly re-route you back to the dry cleaners after you realize you’ve forgotten, providing you with helpful turn-by-turn navigation in your instrument cluster.

That’s a lot of information. And it’s only a small slice of what’s available to today’s driver. The simplicity, reliability, and safety capabilities of platforms by QNX Software Systems make it a possible to have a wide range of technologies and features in a single vehicle, offering up an abundance of data for driver consumption.

So, how do we make this data useful for drivers? What do we need to consider when designing the UI for digital instrument clusters?

How much information does the driver REALLY need?
Information should be helpful, not intrusive or distracting from the task at hand — driving. The point of having more data available to drivers isn’t to show it all at the same time. That’s visually noisy and complex. Complex isn’t better; context is better. Turn-by-turn information can be displayed in the instrument cluster, based on communication from the navigation system. Video of the car’s surroundings can be displayed when parking assist services are engaged. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can present in the cluster alerts to immediate hazards and objects.

Using tools that support rapid prototyping of design scenarios empowers teams to deliver the best user experience possible, serving up only the most relevant information. Using Storyboard Suite from Crank Software, teams can quickly cycle through design prototypes and perform testing on real hardware, focusing on the needs of the driver.

How do we best visualize the data?
It’s critical that drivers see and interpret displayed information as easily and quickly as possible. Clear visual representation of data is required, so it’s important to keep design considerations at the forefront in the development process. This is where the graphic designer comes in.

Crank Software’s Storyboard Suite allows the graphic designer to be integrated into the development process from concept to final HMI delivery, working in parallel with the engineers to ensure that fine details and subtle design nuances aren’t lost. With Storyboard Suite, designers don’t hand over a mockup to a developer to visually represent with code and then walk away. As the graphics change and evolve to satisfy usability requirements, the designer stays engaged throughout the entire process, helping to deliver a polished HMI.

Automotive cluster designed and developed with Crank Software Storyboard Suite, running on QNX Neutrino OS

Can we respond quickly to design change?
Remaining focused on the usability of the end design is critical to ensuring the safest driving experience. Delivering a high-performance, user-centric HMI requires testing, design refinements, retesting, and even further changes. This isn’t a linear process. While iterative process is important, it’s often cost prohibitive because it can introduce lengthy redesign cycles. Storyboard Suite provides teams the functionality to prototype and iterate through designs easily, using features such as Photoshop Re-import to quickly evaluate design changes on hardware and shorten development cycles. In addition, support for collaboration enables teams to share design and development work, thereby reducing the load on individuals and further optimizing time and resources.

A faster development process coupled with a user-focused end design is the key to delivering a highly usable and safe digital instrument cluster to market on schedule and within budget.

A digital instrument cluster developed with Storyboard Suite will be on display at TU-Automotive Detroit in the QNX Software Systems booth, #C92, and the Crank Software booth, #C113. Check out a previous Crank Software and QNX Software Systems collaboration with a Storyboard Suite UI in a QNX technology concept car.


Jason Clarke has over 15 years of experience in the embedded industry, in roles that span development, sales, and marketing. Jason heads up Crank Software’s marketing and sales initiatives.

Visit Crank Software here.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top 5 challenges of digital instrument clusters

Guest post by Olli Laiho, director, product marketing, Rightware

Digitalization of the modern car is progressing at breakneck speed, with research showing that over 70% of cars will ship with a digital display in the cluster by 2017 (Automotive User Interfaces 2014, IHS Automotive, 2014). While digital user interfaces have long been available in the center stack of the vehicle, they are now quickly making their way into the heart of the car’s dashboard — the instrument cluster. However, the migration from traditional, physical instrumentation to the digital Human Machine Interface (HMI) is posing various challenges for auto manufacturers. Here are the top five challenges Rightware is seeing today.

1. Deliver a winning user experience
With the digital cluster, auto manufacturers must deliver a user experience that makes consumers insist on having a digital cluster and makes them think they could never live without one. The car companies need to increase their investment in digital user experience design in order to provide consumers with a digital driving experience they’ll love.

User experience is all about... the user! With the help of target group research, auto manufacturers need to find the key use cases and features for different buyer profiles. While more senior buyers appreciate a digital design featuring traditional big gauges and needles combined with maps in the middle, millennials long for a cluster that connects them with their personal data at the right time, while having a modern look and feel with a real wow effect.

QNX Software Systems' technology concept car 2014 based on the Mercedes CLA 45, featuring a cluster created with Rightware Kanzi®

2. Find the right design-cost-performance combination
In creating HMIs such as digital clusters, finding the right balance among design, cost, and performance becomes essential. It’s all about:

Design — Delivering a stunning user experience
Cost — Minimizing software development, hardware, and maintenance costs
Performance — Choosing the right OS, System-on-a-Chip (SoC), etc.

Automotive user interface designers need to learn to work with the capabilities of the hardware and software platform of the cluster in mind. Designers need to create user experiences that strengthen the auto manufacturer’s brand image while still being possible to implement with the chosen tool chain and hardware and software platforms.

Choosing the SoC that can deliver the best user experience at the best price is essential. While proper automotive SoC benchmarking tools are not yet available in the market, auto manufacturers need to invest in their own measurements and trials for finding the right cost/performance level of the SoC for their project.

QNX Software Systems' technology concept car 2015 based on the Maserati Quattroporte, showing
system diagnostics in the cluster created with Rightware Kanzi

3. Reduce development time
Consumers have become accustomed to having access to the latest technology and innovations on their mobile devices. That expectation has now extended to HMIs in the car.

To meet consumer expectations, the automotive industry must shorten the development time of new vehicles and determine how to provide compelling software upgrades during the car’s lifecycle. Digital clusters need to be designed for upgradeability from the ground up. Through upgrades, the cluster should provide the necessary access to new app platforms and innovations. Streamlining the software development process and choosing the right tool chain for HMI development is key to creating HMIs faster and with more valuable features.

4. Accelerate update cycles

Consumers utilize their mobile devices daily and have learned to expect a constant update cycle that brings new features and enhancements to their device. This “update drug” has created a trend where the customer is waiting for the next update to their beloved devices — a customer that is always looking for more.

Until today, there have been few tangible software upgrades for a car during its lifetime. As an example, when you pick up your car from service, you’ll often see a line on the bill that says “software updates.” Leaving the garage, you can discern no difference in how the car behaves.

Auto manufacturers need a plan for providing consumers with constant software upgrades that give them value during the entire lifecycle of their vehicle. Upgrading the digital cluster doesn’t have to mean that it should look like next year’s model, but the upgrade should provide consumers with either features that add value or a clear, visual difference that they understand is an upgrade. Increasing the upgradeability of HMIs in the car will be a major opportunity for improving customer retention.

5. Establish design ownership
As automotive devices evolve into the digital age, they will also transform the way auto manufacturers create designs for their customers. Unlike a mobile device, HMI design will be specific not only to the manufacturer’s brand, but also to that model. Digital screens will give automotive UI designers the flexibility to create unique designs, and they will need full control of the UI framework to be able to deliver these stunning user experiences.

Consumers are increasingly connected 24/7 to ecosystems from companies such as Google and Apple. Due to the increase in consumer demand, these technologies are also making their way into the car cockpit in various forms — from simple content integration (SMS, mail, media) to sandboxed but comprehensive solutions like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Automotive companies must invest in creating branded digital user experiences that can rival and exceed any third-party designs in the vehicle. They should invest in a UI solution and operating system that can deliver the design as intended.

Audi Q7 Virtual Cockpit, running on QNX Neutrino OS, featuring a cluster created with Rightware Kanzi



Visit Rightware at TU-Automotive Detroit (booth #C115) to witness next-generation HMI demos built with Kanzi and a first chance to see a brand new Kanzi product. You’ll also find Rightware’s technology in the QNX booth (#C92).



Olli Laiho has been working in software development for over 15 years. An avid car enthusiast, Olli heads Rightware’s global marketing activities.

The Rightware Kanzi UI Solution and the QNX Neutrino OS can already be found together in several vehicles, including the Audi TT, Audi Q7, and the Audi R8. Rightware has created several digital clusters for QNX technology concept cars, including the 2014 Mercedes CLA 45 and the 2015 Maserati Quattroporte.

Visit Rightware here.