Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The first-ever QNX technology concept car to hit CES

Paul Leroux
I bet you thought it was the Porsche. Or perhaps even the Bentley. But no, the first QNX-powered technology concept car to appear at CES was a digitally modded Prius — aka the LTE Connected Car. In fact, the car appeared at two CES shows: 2010 and 2011.

If you've never heard of the LTE Connected Car, it was a joint project of several companies, including QNX Software Systems and Alcatel-Lucent. The project members wanted to demonstrate how 4G/LTE networks could transform the driving experience and enable a host of new in-vehicle applications. This kind of thinking of may seem like old hat today, but when the car was created, telecom companies had yet to light up their first commercial LTE towers. The car was definitely ahead of its time.

One of the four infotainment
systems in the LTE Connected Car
Almost everyone saw the entertainment potential of equipping a car with a 4G/LTE broadband connection — the ability to access your favorite music, applications, videos, or social media while on the road had immediate appeal. But many people also saw the other value proposition this car presented: the ability for vehicles to continuously upload information they have gathered about themselves or surrounding road conditions, providing, in the words of WIRED's Eliot Van Buskirk, "a crowd-sourced version of what traffic helicopters do today." Awesome quote, that.

QNX provided the software foundation for the LTE Connected Car, including the OS, touchscreen user interfaces, media players for YouTube and Pandora, navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, games, and handsfree integration. But why am I blabbing on about this when I could show you? Cue the screen captures...

Google local search
First up is Google local search, which displayed local points of interest to help drivers and passengers find nearby restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, ATMs, hospitals, and so on. And because this was an LTE-enabled car, the system could fetch these POIs from a cloud-based database:

Pandora Internet radio
For those who prefer to listen to what they like, and nothing else, the car also came with a Pandora app:

Home monitoring and control
Are you the kind of person who forgets to engage the burglar alarm before going to work? If so, the car's home automation app was just the ticket. It could let you manage home systems, such as lights and thermostats, from any of the car’s touchscreens — you could even view a live video feed from home security cameras:

Vehicle diagnostics
Now this is my favorite part. If you look below, you'll see the car's main screen for accessing vehicle diagnostics. At the upper right is the virtual mechanic app, which retrieved OBD-II codes from the vehicle bus to display the status of your brakes, tires, power train, electrical systems, fluids, and so on. (The current QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment includes an updated version of this app.)

Low oil pressure... yikes!
The virtual mechanic wouldn't fix your car for you. But it could tell you when things were going south and help you take appropriate action — before the problem escalated. In this case, it's saying that the engine oil pressure is low:

What to do? Well, if you were mechanically challenged, you could tap the fuel pump icon at the bottom of the screen to display a map of local service stations. Or you could tap on the dealership icon (Toyota, in this case) and find directions to the nearest, well, dealership:

The virtual mechanic would also let you zoom in on specific systems. For instance, in the following screen, the user has tapped the brake fluid button to learn the location of the brake fluid reservoir:

On the subject of zooming, let's zoom out for a second to see the entire car:

Moving pictures
Screen captures and photos can say only so much. For the back story on the LTE Connected Car, check out this video, which digs into the "philosophy" of the car and what the project members were working to accomplish:

An LTE Connected Car reader


  1. Does Toyota still is a QNX's partner,today?

    1. Hi Walter. Toyota continues to use the QNX platform in new production systems for its vehicles. - Paul