Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ZENRIN Datacom integrates mobile navigation app with QNX CAR Platform

Don't know if you've noticed, but a variety of navigation software vendors have been integrating their solutions with the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment. In the last few months alone, QNX has announced partnerships with Nokia HERE, Kotei Informatics, and AISIN AW — this in addition to its longstanding partnerships with navigation leaders like Elektrobit, TCS, and TeleNav.

The new partnerships are a boon to automakers and Tier 1 suppliers, especially those that target multiple geographies. More than ever, these companies can choose the navigation solution, or solutions, best suited to a given country or region.

The good news continues with ZENRIN DataCom, a leading provider of mapping services and products from Japan. ZENRIN is now integrating its Its-mo NAVI [Drive] 2013 application — which offers fuel prices, nearby parking spots, and other location-based features — with the QNX CAR Platform. In fact, ZENRIN and QNX demonstrated this integration last week at the Smartphone Japan conference in Tokyo.

The choice of venue may seem surprising, but it makes sense: Its-mo NAVI [Drive] is a smartphone app that, thanks to the collaboration between ZENRIN and QNX, can now run on head units as well. More to the point, this integration illustrates the benefit of building support for mobile app environments into a car infotainment platform: automakers can tap into a much larger developer community.

A spokesperson from ZENRIN DataCom says it best: “The automotive market in Japan and the rest of Asia is a vibrant and compelling environment for app developers but market volume is significantly lower than that for smartphones. A cross-platform concept is key as it enables apps to run on both smartphones and vehicle head units with minimal changes. The QNX CAR Platform, with its rich support for mobile application environments, is a very attractive feature for app developers in the mobile world.”

If you’d like more about ZENRIN and its navigation app, I invite you to read the press release and visit the ZENRIN website.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Using a smaller BOM to make less boom

Don't know about you, but where I live, the price of gas has rocketed through the troposphere and is fast approaching the upper stratosphere. Which is to say, it has gone through the proverbial roof. It was almost $1.40 a liter (over $5 a gallon) the last time I stopped at a pump and is set to climb even higher, now that summer is approaching.

Small wonder that, for many car buyers, fuel economy is top of mind. Automakers are wise to this and have adopted a variety of measures to make their cars sip gas more slowly. For instance, many cars now deactivate cylinders when engine load is light and use fewer sound-damping materials to shed weight — because schlepping fewer pounds means less work, and less work means less gas.

These techniques save gas all right, but at a price: increased engine “boom” noise that can both annoy and fatigue the driver — not to mention everyone else in the vehicle. That's a problem. To address it, automakers use active noise control, or ANC, which plays noise-cancelling signals over speakers in the vehicle cabin. All fine and good, but until now, ANC solutions have used dedicated hardware, which can drive up Bill of Materials (BOM) costs and make it difficult to leverage the latest ANC technologies.

What to do? That's the subject of a recent whitepaper by my inestimable colleague Tina Jeffrey. Tina outlines some design considerations for ANC systems (choosing the right microphones makes a difference, for example) but mostly, she focuses on the advantages of running ANC logic on the processor or DSP of the car's infotainment system — as opposed to on a dedicated ANC module.

The benefits are many, including lower BOM costs, greater design flexibility, better cooperation between various acoustic functions in the car and — here's the one I like — less boom. But why sit there listening to me drone on about this? Download Tina's paper now and get the real deal.

Software-based ANC: a smaller BOM, with less boom.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Infotainment gets an upgrade

So, a few weeks ago, we invited a group of Canadian journalists to come visit the QNX garage and get a hands-on intro to our latest concept cars. Sami Haj-Assaad of AutoGuide was one of our esteemed guests, and here's his take on what he experienced:

Did you notice? The floors in the video are remarkably clean for a working garage. That's because we set loose a QNX-powered robot vacuum from Neato Robotics before the cameras started rolling. If you haven't yet seen a Neato Botvac in action, you owe it to yourself to check out this video.

If you're a visual designer, keep reading...
Would you, by any chance, be a creative, experienced, and just plain awesome visual designer? Because if you are, have I got a job for you. Right now, QNX is looking for a designer to help create its next generation of concept vehicles — and lots of other things to boot. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to put your mark on some very cool technology; find out more here.