Thursday, May 31, 2012

It pays to uncover... the new QNX reference vehicle

As you know, we are gearing up for Telematics Detroit next week and bringing our brand new reference vehicle to the show. I would tell you what kind of car it is, but that would take away all the fun! We posted some pictures earlier but we wanted to give you a few more to see if you can correctly guess the brand name and model.

And to make it interesting, if you’re right, we’ll give you a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks! We will award gift cards to the first 25 people who respond with the correct answer and currently reside in the United States or Canada.

Earlier votes don’t count; you have to vote on Twitter, starting today. Simply follow our handle at @QNX_Auto and tweet @QNX_Auto with your guess, and you’ll be entered. And stay tuned on Twitter, where we’ll post more pictures. Don’t have Twitter? You can vote here, but you must include your email. And in order to play fair, QNX employees aren't eligible - shucks.

Check out the pictures below and get your votes in early. The car will be unveiled, and winners notified, on June 6. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Report from CTIA Wireless: Apps in the Car

You wouldn’t think that CTIA Wireless, a mobile show, would be a good venue for a car guy. But automotive journalist Doug Newcomb put together a set of panels that managed to attract everyone from the automotive industry who attended the show.

I met a good number of friends from a variety of automakers, tier one suppliers, and hardware and software vendors. I also had the distinct pleasure of participating in one of Doug's panels, which was moderated by Damon Lavrinc of WIRED.

The topic was the future of apps in the car, and it generated a spirited discussion. Panel participants included Geoff Snyder from Pandora, Michelle Avary from Toyota, Henry Bzeih from Kia, and Scott Burnell from Ford — all experts on the topic.

Andy speaking on the
apps panel. Videos of all
the panels are now online.
In general, we agreed: apps are coming to the car. They have already arrived in several cases, and it’s only a matter of time before they come to mass-market vehicles. And apps are not for North American alone: it's a worldwide phenomenon.

Mind you, we engaged in lively debate on a number of questions: What role does the mobile app developer play? How to deal with the fragmentation caused by different OEM app platforms? How to deal with driver distraction? And when will the "one man app" ever make it into the car? We all had good and varied opinions on these topics, and the session was very well received by the audience.

Derek Kuhn, QNX vice president of sales and marketing, also participated in a panel session, titled "Can we all just get along… for the consumer's sake?". That panel focused on how the industry as a whole can create a more seamless experience for the consumer. Derek's co-panelists included Mark Harland from GM, Leo McCloskey from Airbiquity, Brian Radloff from Nuance, and Niall Berkery from Telenav.

Did I mention? Videos of all the panels are now on Doug Newcomb's website — check them out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

OnStar RemoteLink app comes to BlackBerry smartphones

This just in: The RemoteLink App from OnStar, which allows smartphone owners to remotely start their vehicles, check fuel levels, and lock or unlock their doors, is now available for the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 phones.

RemoteLink has been available for iPhone and Android phones, but many OnStar subscribers have asked for a BlackBerry version of the app. In response, Onstar wrote a new version for the BlackBerry platform, in HTML5.

“Writing the app using HTML5... positioned us to be more flexible supporting new phone operating systems,” said Steve Schwinke, director of advanced systems development for OnStar.
Opening screen
for RemoteLink

© GM Company 

In 2011, OnStar added navigation to RemoteLink, allowing users to search for a destination on their smartphone and send it directly to their vehicle. Users can then access the route through the QNX-powered OnStar system.

By leveraging OnStar’s connection to the vehicle, the app can report on oil levels, tire pressures, fuel level, and lifetime miles per gallon. It also offers remote commands, such as remote start, door lock/unlock, and horn/light activation.

According to OnStar, a total of 821,000 smartphone owners actively use the RemoteLink app.

To read OnStar's press release, click here. To download the RemoteLink app from BlackBerry App World, click here.

On a related note, here's a conversation between QNX's Andy Gryc and OnStar's Steve Schwinke. The topic: how HTML5 can benefit the auto industry.


Concept car out. Reference vehicle in.

Our big announcement for Telematics Update is that we are not showing a concept car. Odd news, you say. The truth is, we're not building a concept car because we are building a reference vehicle. Splitting hairs? Not really.

Unlike the Corvette and the Porsche, our demo for this show will be based on the exact same technology that our customers are using today to design their next-generation systems.

So why vehicle instead of car? Is it a truck? Nope. A van? Negative. What about a motorcycle? Double negative.

I was hoping to give you a sneak peek at what we are working on but I'm not allowed to give away the details. However, I did manage to get these shots – let me know if you can see the vehicle. :-)


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A cool surprise at the Elektrobit auto summit

Recently, our good friends at Elektrobit invited the QNX team to participate in their German Executive Automotive Summit. It was an outstanding event with all of the leading OEMs and tier ones represented. The day was filled with engaging speakers and plenty of opportunities to network.

Elektrobit held the event in a small castle near Erlangen. In the courtyard, several cars featuring Elektrobit technology (and, in almost all cases, QNX technology) were on display. The car from Delphi was especially interesting. It's a full-blown race car, complete with everything you'd expect in a track vehicle — but it also has two rear seats. These seats allow mere mortals like you and I to vicariously share the racing experience with a professional driver at the wheel.

As I stood next to it, drooling, I noticed that it was equipped with an infotainment system, mounted on the back of the driver's seat. I leaned in to have a closer look and, to my delight, saw that it was running the QNX OS. Who knew?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Making the smartphone connection: The state of automotive navigation in Japan

A guest post from Yoshiki Chubachi, the automotive business development manager for QNX Software Systems in Japan

Yoshiki Chubachi
Yoshiki Chubachi
The market for navigation systems in Japan grew rapidly until 2006, but since 2007 the yearly volume has reached the saturation point, at about 2.9M units. For instance, in 2008, consumers purchased 900k after-market systems, 1.1M dealer-installed systems, and 909k factory-installed systems. In 2010, those numbers had changed slightly: 1.01M after-market systems, 1.03M dealer-installed systems, and 858k factory-installed systems (source: Yano Research Institute).

That said, the market is starting to experience a shift from after-market to factory-installed devices. Automakers and their tier one suppliers are struggling to differentiate their products by implementing value-added features.

To get a feel for current navigation trends in Japan, let’s look at some notable after-market products that shipped in 2011. As you'll see, smartphones are exerting a major influence on this market, both in terms of system design and user features:

Pioneer AVIC-VH09CS — This high-end system combines augmented reality technology with a front-view camera, overlaying your route on a live video of the road. It also implements a collision warning system by measuring the distance of the car ahead. Other features include terrestrial digital TV (full HD and 1seg), DVD video, AM-FM, CD and SD music, iPod connectivity, and music ripping and encoding.

Clarion NX501 — The smartphone world seems to drive navigation trends, and the Clarion NX501 is no exception. It offers a touchscreen UI that supports swipes, flicks, and other finger gestures similar to those found in smartphones and tablets. Suzuki factory-installed systems also use the type of user interface.

Fujitsu-Ten AVN-F01i — This system comes with three bundled iPhone applications: Twitter Drive (combines tweets with location data), Where is My Car (uses augmented reality to show your parking location on the phone screen; great for finding your car in large parking lots); and News Reader (allows the system’s text-to-speech engine to read out news articles). The system connects to the phone through Bluetooth.

Panasonic CN-H500WD — The system also lets you use finger swipes to operate navigation and audio functions, including a scrolling map. It comes with a smartphone application that provides POI search, which is downloaded to the navigation system through Bluetooth.

Mitsubishi NR-MZ50 — This system provides an “OpenInfo” service based on Pioneer’s Smartloop system, which provides traffic data from a Pioneer server. VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System) is a popular traffic data service in Japan that is similar to the RDS-TMC standard, but its coverage is limited to main highways. The smartphone receives traffic data, derived from anonymous traffic probe information, wherever the VICS service isn't supported. Information from the phone is transmitted to the navigation system through Bluetooth.

Connectivity between navigation systems and smartphones remains an issue in Japan. Conventional cell phones are equipped with the Bluetooth DUN profile, which enables data communication between the nav system and the phone, but unfortunately, some carriers still don’t support this profile. Until they do, lack of connectivity will remain a roadblock.

Nonetheless, using smartphones to deliver applications and the user experience has become a major trend in Japan’s navigation systems. Some automotive tier one suppliers, such as Pioneer, already provide navigation applications on the phone. The QNX CAR 2 application platform, with its mobile connectivity features and auto-centric HTML5 framework, offers an ideal foundation for enabling this approach.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In Memoriam Carroll Shelby

I should have had my camera with me. Because if I had photos to show you, you’d understand. Too late now!

It happened in Wilno, a small town in rural Ontario. I had just stepped out of the local tavern when I saw the thing, only meters away.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

It lay close to the ground, absolutely still. Its striped, muscular frame suggested immense power, and its skin reflected the blood-red rays of the setting sun. I stood frozen, refusing to believe what my eyes were telling me.

Moments passed, and I decided I had nothing to lose. I began to walk towards it. Closer… closer… closer.

Finally, I was standing over it. No response. So I reached down and, ever so gently, stroked it. And then it happened. A voice behind me, yelling a question. I mustn’t have responded, because the question was repeated.

“So would you like a peek under the hood?”

"Yes", I said.

Beneath the thing’s hood was a gleaming and oh-so-potent 427 V8. And the thing itself was an AC Cobra, immaculately restored to its mid-60s glory. For the next 30 minutes, the Cobra's owner treated me to a bumper-to-bumper inspection of the car, inside and out. I must have exclaimed “Cool!” about 100 times. Because it was.

The best part? When the owner started it up. The car's engine and side-mounted exhaust pipes erupted into sonic mayhem, right off the decibel scale. Pure rock ‘n’ roll.

Ever since then, I have had the comfort knowing that, on the highways of Ontario, there can be found an unalloyed embodiment of one man’s automotive vision and imagination. A man whom I've never met, but whose work I've admired for more than 45 years. An man who, just recently, left us. The car, an AC Cobra. The man, Carroll Shelby.

RIP Carroll.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sound "bytes" from CTIA Wireless 2012

Several of my colleagues went to CTIA Wireless this week, and yes, they took the connected Porsche with them. No surprise there, of course: we’ve also taken the car to CES, MWC, BBW, and numerous other events. (Sorry, I’m really into acronyms today.) The Porsche, with its QNX-powered mobile connectivity and HD hands-free audio, seems to impress people no matter where it goes, and the reaction at CTIA was no different. In fact, the folks from Black Enterprise were so stoked, they awarded the car a CTIA Best in Show award. How cool is that?

Here’s a snap of the award, sitting on the car’s dash:

Meanwhile, Boonsri Dickinson of BYTE met up with Andy Gryc to ask him about QNX’s vision and technology for the connected car. Here's a video of their conversation — in the Porsche, of course:

Andy didn't spend all of his time in the passenger seat. Both he and Derek Kuhn also participated in connected car panels moderated by automotive journalist Doug Newcomb. The panels included "Apps in Automotive: The Future of In-Car Content" and "Can We All Just Get Along, for the Consumer's Sake?". From what I've heard, both sessions were taped, and I hope to post a link to the videos next week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

QNX and its customers nab finalist spots in 2012 Telematics Update awards

Every year, the world's top automakers and automotive suppliers vie for a chance to win a Telematics Update award. In 2011, for example, Audi, BMW, Hyundai, OnStar, and Toyota took top honors in categories such as best infotainment solution, best safety technology, and best cloud-based application.

These companies may have won in a variety of categories, but they share one thing in common: they all use the QNX platform.

As with 2011, so for 2012. If you look at this year's shortlist, you'll see that several QNX customers and technology partners are again in the running. The finalists include GM, whose MyLink system is up for best global infotainment solution, and OnStar, whose FMV system is up for best aftermarket solution.

This pattern is nothing new. Back in 2009, for example, more than 50% of the Telematics Update award winners either worked with QNX as a technology partner or used the QNX platform in their in-car systems.

And did I mention? QNX itself is up for a Telematics Update award this year! The QNX CAR 2 application platform, which drove home with a Best of CES Award in January, is a finalist in the industry newcomer category.

Two of the QNX-powered systems shortlisted for this year's Telematics Update awards:   
GM MyLink and OnStar FMV

It's hard to know what pleases me more: that QNX has been singled out for an award, or that QNX has once again helped its customers make the shortlist. Either way, I'm stoked.

The winners will be unveiled June 5, just prior to the Telematics Detroit show. In the meantime, my congratulations to all the finalists.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Phonedog connects with QNX concept car at BlackBerry World 2012

If you aren't at BlackBerry World this week, you're missing out. For starters, you won't get to see what, in my biased opinion, is the world's coolest car: the QNX-powered and very connected Porsche 911.

But not all is lost. You can still watch this video from Sydney Myers of, who caught with up with Mike Shane of QNX for a tour of the car's features — from instant smartphone pairing and off-board navigation to handsfree calling with HD stereo. Check it out:

My favorite part? When the text overlay on the video shouts out "The audio quality was REALLY good." Got that right.

And did I mention? Mike is one of the super-talented people who built the concept car. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rockin' the phone at BlackBerry World

I'm at BlackBerry World 2012 (as you already know if you're following my tweets), and it really is amazing.

In his keynote, RIM's CEO Thorsten Heins provided stats on how the average BlackBerry user isn't just connected, but hyper-connected. BlackBerry users engage in more social media, use more organizational tools, and download more apps per day than other smartphone users. (I wasn't quick enough to type up all the stats, but I'm sure you can find them elsewhere.)

Introducing the BlackBerry
10 dev alpha device
Is the BlackBerry platform an entertainment tool? Productivity tool? Social media hub? All of these, but more than anything else, BlackBerry creates success. The 77 million BlackBerry users worldwide are more agile, productive, competitive, and nimble than their counterparts.

Here are some great factoids I was able to capture:

  • Mippin is a worldwide mobile development shop responsible for 50,000 apps on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. But BlackBerry accounts for 70% of their downloads.
  • Occipital offers a very cool panorama camera app, which they demo'd this morning. It took them only 7 days to port to BlackBerry 10, and it already performs better than the Android version.
  • Fishlabs creates mobile games. It took them one day to port Galaxy on Fire to the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. (And it is one awesome app — I gotta go download it tonight :-)
  • App World for the PlayBook underwent 240% growth in Q4 2011.
  • 90% of Fortune 500 companies standardize on BlackBerry.
Stay tuned for more pix and reports from what promises to be an awesome show!