Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My top moments of 2013 — so far

Paul Leroux
Yes, I know, 2013 isn’t over yet. But it’s been such a milestone year for our automotive business that I can’t wait another two months to talk about it. And besides, you’ll be busy as an elf at the end of December, visiting family and friends, skiing the Rockies, or buying exercise equipment to compensate for all those holiday carbs. Which means if I wait, you’ll never get to read this. So let’s get started.

We unveil a totally new (and totally cool) technology concept car
Times Square. We were there.
It all began at 2013 CES, when we took the wraps off the latest QNX technology concept car — a one-of-a-kind Bentley Continental GT. The QNX concept team outfitted the Bentley with an array of technologies, including a high-definition DLP display, a 3D rear-view camera, cloud-based voice recognition, smartphone connectivity, and… oh heck, just read the blog post to get the full skinny.

Even if you weren’t at CES, you could still see the car in action. Brian Cooley of CNET, Michael Guillory of Texas Instruments, the folks at Elektrobit, and Discovery Canada’s Daily Planet were just some of the individuals and organizations who posted videos. You could also connect to the car through a nifty web app. Heck, you could even see the Bentley’s dash on the big screen in Times Square, thanks to the promotional efforts of Elektrobit, who also created the 3D navigation software for the concept car.

We ship the platform
We wanted to drive into CES with all cylinders firing, so we also released version 2.0 of the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment. In fact, several customers in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and China had already started to use the platform, through participation in an early access program. Which brings me to the next milestone...

Delphi boards the platform
The first of many.
Also at CES, Delphi, a global automotive supplier and long-time QNX customer, announced that version 2.0 of the QNX CAR Platform will form the basis of its next-generation infotainment systems. As it turned out, this was just one of several QNX CAR customer announcements in 2013 — but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We have the good fortune to be featured in Fortune
Fast forward to April, when Fortune magazine took a look at how QNX Software Systems evolved from its roots in the early 1980s to become a major automotive player. Bad news: you need a subscription to read the article on the Fortune website. Good news: you can read the same article for free on CNN Money. ;-)

A music platform sets the tone for our platform
In April, 7digital, a digital music provider, announced that it will integrate its 23+ million track catalogue with the QNX CAR Platform. It didn't take long for several other partners to announce their platform support. These include Renesas (R-Car system-on-chip for high-performance infotainment), AutoNavi (mobile navigation technology for the Chinese market), Kotei (navigation engine for the Japanese market), and Digia (Qt application framework).

We stay focused on distraction
Back in early 2011, Scott Pennock of QNX was selected to chair an ITU-T focus group on driver distraction. The group’s objective was serious and its work was complex, but its ultimate goal was simple: to help reduce collisions. This year, the group wrapped up its work and published several reports — but really, this is only the beginning of QNX and ITU-T efforts in this area.

We help develop a new standard
Goodbye fragmentation; hello
standard APIs.
Industry fragmentation sucks. It means everyone is busy reinventing the wheel when they could be inventing something new instead. So I was delighted to see my colleague Andy Gryc become co-chair of the W3C Automotive and Web Platform Business Group, which has the mandate to accelerate the adoption of web technologies in the car. Currently, the group is working to draft a standard set of JavaScript APIs for accessing vehicle data information. Fragmentation, thy days are numbered.

We launch an auto safety program
A two-handed approach to
helping ADAS developers.
On the one hand, we have a 30-year history in safety-critical systems and proven competency in safety certifications. On the other hand, we have deep experience in automotive software design. So why not join both hands together and allow auto companies to leverage our full expertise when they are building digital instrument clusters, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and other in-car systems with safety requirements?

That’s the question we asked ourselves, and the answer was the new QNX Automotive Safety Program for ISO 26262. The program quickly drew support from several industry players, including Elektrobit, Freescale, NVIDIA, and Texas Instruments.

We jive up the Jeep
A tasty mix of HTML5 & Android
apps, served on a Qt interface,
with OpenGL ES on the side.
If you don’t already know, we use a Jeep Wrangler as our reference vehicle — basically, a demo vehicle outfitted with a stock version of the QNX CAR Platform. This summer, we got to trick out the Jeep with a new, upcoming version of the platform, which adds support for Android apps and for user interfaces based on the Qt 5 framework.

Did I mention? The platform runs Android apps in a separate application container, much like it handles HTML5 apps. This sandboxed approach keeps the app environment cleanly partitioned from the UI, protecting both the UI and the overall system from unpredictable web content. Good, that.

The commonwealth’s leader honors our leader
I only ate one piece. Honest.
Okay, this one has nothing to do with automotive, but I couldn’t resist. Dan Dodge, our CEO and co-founder, received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his many achievements and contributions to Canadian society. To celebrate, we gave Dan a surprise party, complete with the obligatory cake. (In case you’re wondering, the cake was yummy. But any rumors suggesting that I went back for a second, third, and fourth piece are total fabrications. Honestly, the stories people cook up.)

Mind you, Dan wasn’t the only one to garner praise. Sheridan Ethier, the manager of the QNX CAR development team, was also honored — not by the queen, but by the Ottawa Business Journal for his technical achievements, business leadership, and community involvement.

Chevy MyLink drives home with first prize — twice
There's nothing better than going home with first prize. Except, perhaps, doing it twice. In January, the QNX-based Chevy MyLink system earned a Best of CES 2013 Award, in the car tech category. And in May, it pulled another coup: first place in the "Automotive, LBS, Navigation & Safe Driving" category of the 2013 CTIA Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards.

Panasonic, Garmin, and Foryou get with the platform
Garmin K2 platform: because
one great platform deserves
August was crazy busy — and crazy good. Within the space of two weeks, three big names in the global auto industry revealed that they’re using the QNX CAR Platform for their next-gen systems. Up first was Panasonic, who will use the platform to build systems for automakers in North America, Europe, and Japan. Next was Foryou, who will create infotainment systems for automakers in China. And last was Garmin, who are using the platform in the new Garmin K2, the company’s infotainment solution for automotive OEMs.

And if all that wasn’t cool enough…

Mercedes-Benz showcases the platform
Did I mention I want one?
When Mercedes-Benz decides to wow the crowds at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it doesn’t settle for second best. Which is why, in my not so humble opinion, they chose the QNX CAR Platform for the oh-so-desirable Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupé.

Mind you, this isn’t the first time QNX and Mercedes-Benz have joined forces. In fact, the QNX auto team and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America have collaborated since the early 2000s. Moreover, QNX has supplied the OS for a variety of Mercedes infotainment systems. The infotainment system and digital cluster in the Concept S-Class Coupé are the latest — and arguably coolest — products of this long collaboration.

We create noise to eliminate noise
Taking a sound approach to
creating a quieter ride.
Confused yet? Don’t be. You see, it’s quite simple. Automakers today are using techniques like variable cylinder management, which cut fuel consumption (good), but also increase engine noise (bad). Until now, car companies have been using active noise control systems, which play “anti-noise” to cancel out the unwanted engine sounds. All fine and good, but these systems require dedicated hardware — and that makes them expensive. So we devised a software product, QNX Acoustics for Active Noise Control, that not only out-performs conventional solutions, but can run on the car’s existing audio or infotainment hardware. Goodbye dedicated hardware, hello cost savings.

And we flub our lines on occasion
Our HTML5 video series has given companies like Audi, OnStar, Gartner, TCS, and Pandora a public forum to discuss why HTML5 and other open standards are key to the future of the connected car. The videos are filled with erudite conversation, but every now and then, it becomes obvious that sounding smart in front of a camera is a little harder than it looks. So what did we do with the embarrassing bits? Create a blooper reel, of course.

Are these bloopers our greatest moments? Nope. Are they among the funniest? Oh yeah. :-)


  1. Hi Paul !
    Can't wait to see car2car and M2M spread the world :)
    Fantastic year, keep the good work going ! :)

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Antoine. And apologies for taking so long to post your comment. I need to up my moderator game. :-)
      - Paul