Showing posts with label CES. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CES. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Head to the polls and vote for your favorite CES Car of Fame

Over the last couple of months we have recapped the stars of the QNX garage – our technology concept cars and reference vehicle — in the CES Cars of Fame series. And now, we are opening the floor to you!

Starting today through February 14 you can vote for your favorite vehicle that we have featured at CES. Did the eye-catching Bentley strike your fancy or did the updated Jeep put you into another gear? It’s all up to you. We will announce the fan favorite on Tuesday, February 18.

So once again here is the full list of our CES Cars of Fame blog posts. Have one last look and cast your vote:

Cast your vote here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

QNX at CES: The media’s take

No, CES isn’t over yet. But the technology concept cars showcased in the QNX booth have already stoked the interest of journalists attending the event — and even of some not attending the event. So here, in no particular order, are examples of what they're saying.

Oh, and I’ve added a couple of stories that aren’t strictly CES-related, but appeared this week. They were too relevant to pass up.

That's it for now. I aim to post more stories and videos early next week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In good company: QNX partner solutions at 2014 CES

Guest post by Peter McCarthy of the QNX global partnerships team

Peter McCarthy
If anyone thinks that creating an infotainment system is easy, they obviously haven’t thought about it hard enough. It is, in fact, a massive undertaking that requires seamless integration of navigation engines, voice technologies, app environments, HMI tools, Internet music services, smartphone connectivity, automotive-hardened processors — the list goes on.

No single company could possibly offer all of these technologies. And even if it could, it still wouldn’t address the needs of automakers and tier one suppliers, who need the power of choice. Any company building an infotainment system needs the flexibility to combine Navigation Engine A with Processor B and Bluetooth Solution C.

Enabling customers to enjoy such choice without worrying about integration issues is something that QNX works very hard at. For evidence, look no further than our latest technology concept car, a modified Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, which debuted this week at our CES booth. The car integrates an array of partner tech, including:

Meanwhile, the head unit in our reference vehicle, also featured in the QNX booth, integrates several partner apps and holds the distinction of being the world’s first in-vehicle implementation of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Automotive Solutions. And if that’s not enough, our booth contains demos of a navigation engine from Aisin AW and a digital instrument cluster built with HMI tools from HI Corporation.

Mind you, the action isn’t restricted to the QNX booth. Several partners have also gotten into the act and are demonstrating QNX-based systems in their CES booths and meeting rooms. For instance:

  • Elektrobit — Demonstrating a new concept electric vehicle that sports an instrument cluster and infotainment system based on the QNX Neutrino Realtime Operating System.
  • Freescale — Demonstrating the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment on its i.MX 6 Applications Processors for Automotive.
  • Gracenote — Demonstrating how its technology can personalize the in-vehicle music experience, using a system based on the QNX Neutrino OS.
  • NVIDIA — Demonstrating Audi's newest infotainment system featuring the NVIDIA Tegra processor and the QNX Neutrino OS.
  • Qualcomm — Demonstrating the QNX CAR Platform on Snapdragon Automotive Solutions.
  • Red Bend Software — Demonstrating virtualization technology that runs the QNX CAR Platform and a digital instrument cluster on dual displays driven by a single processor.
  • Texas Instruments — Demonstrating the QNX CAR Platform running on its latest Jacinto processors

For the fully skinny on QNX partner technology at CES, I invite you to check out our press release, along with joint announcements that we have issued with Aisin AW, HERE, HI Corporation, and Qualcomm.

About Peter
When he isn't talking on oversized mobile phones, Peter McCarthy serves as director of global partnerships at QNX Software Systems, where he is responsible for establishing and fostering partnerships with technology and services companies in all of the company's target industries.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"I want one"

Yesterday, I bemoaned that words and pictures could never capture the unique experience of being in one of the new QNX technology concept cars. But you know what? Video comes a little bit closer.

Of course, it can't capture everything. For instance, it can't reproduce the richness and clarity of the cars' full-band and wideband phone calls, or the sheer auditory relief offered by QNX active noise control software. But it can capture the reaction of someone experiencing these technologies.

For instance, in this video, I love watching how Adam from reacts to our latest innovations in automotive acoustics. Especially the part where says "I want one."

Did I mention? The clip also contains footage of our infotainment and digital cluster systems in action. Check it out:

A big thanks to Adam and the CrackBerry team for visiting us at CES.

QNX at CES: a key fob on steroids

Have you ever wished that your key fob could do more than lock and unlock doors, and chirp your horn? If so, you’ll be interested in some great tech that QNX Software Systems has developed in partnership with DotLinker and is demonstrating this week at CES.

To show what this technology can do, we’ve created a custom “key fob” app that connects to our Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG technology concept car. The app is written in HTML5, our cross-platform language of choice, so it will run on any smartphone. Here is the app’s main menu:

Remote repair, over the air
A really cool feature of this technology is that the connection to your car is hosted on a cloud service, thanks to our DotLinker integration. This approach could allow multiple devices owned by you, your spouse, or your kids to access the vehicle's state simultaneously. It could also allow your dealership to access the vehicle’s state online — with your permission of course — without having you bring the car into the shop. The dealer tech could simply pull up a management console on an iPad to see what’s wrong, order the parts you need, and book a single, quick fix-it appointment:

If the problem can be fixed by software, that same technician could make changes over the air. It might be as simple as setting a Bluetooth pairing option that you can’t find (aka remote device management), or downloading new software to the car (aka firmware over-the-air updates):

Dodging the vortex
How about a remote start from anywhere? The Buick Enclave with OnStar shows just how nice this can be when it’s bitter cold outside and you’re beyond traditional key-fob distance. This feature should come in handy this week with the dreaded “Polar Vortex”! Also, you never know when a coworker might need to borrow your ice scraper out of the trunk — stay nice and warm inside while he or she gets it. If it ever does get back to hot summer days (and it will, eventually), this same remote access could let you open your car’s sunroof or windows.

The key fob app supports remote start; remote open/close of doors, windows, roof, and trunk; and, for good measure, remote control of turn signals:

Where did I park that thing?
“Hey kids, meet me back at the car!” Finding your vehicle’s location is a modern necessity, especially when the parking lot is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Okay, the Las Vegas Convention Center isn’t that big, but it sure feels that way by the end of the show:

Backseat DJ
Finally, what about controlling the car’s media player from the phone? Let your kids DJ the car’s playlist from the back seat from their tablets or smartphones to keep the trip to Grandma’s entertaining. Just remember you gave them that power when they dish up their favorite screamo band, “A Scar for the Wicked”.

What if?
Now imagine... what if your next car came with a key-fob app? What features would you hope to see? And what do you think would be the killer key-fob feature of all time? Over-the-air updates? Remote location tracking? Or something completely different?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The QNX sound machine at CES

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending the Consumer Electronics Show, you’ll know that it’s a crowded place full of lights and noise. In the automotive North Hall, much of the cacophony comes from the legions of car customizers blasting bass from sedan-sized speakers. This year, QNX has brought a new kind of technology concept car to CES, based on a Kia Soul, that offers some subtler forms of sound artistry. (Sorry, hamster fans—I don’t think we’ll have your favorite mascot in the QNX booth.)

A sound ride: the new QNX technology concept car for acoustics

Let’s start with noise. Everyone likes a booming radio, sometimes. But if that’s the only tool you have to drown out engine noise you’ll go deaf. That’s where Active Noise Control (ANC) comes in. Think of ANC as a more sophisticated version of noise cancelling headphones that you don’t need to wear. Not only does ANC help keep the car’s cabin quiet, but the QNX solution is software based and doesn’t require a dedicated hardware module, saving the OEM and the consumer money.

The best part about ANC is that it helps cars become more fuel efficient. Huh? To keep car interiors quiet, automakers add baffling in the doors and under the floor to help mute engine noise. Dragging around that extra weight costs fuel. So removing the ballast (I mean baffles) lets the automakers make more fuel-efficient cars. And with ANC, which helps eliminate the extra noise caused by this approach, everyone wins.

Beyond wideband
Next up: a new level of call quality. If you’ve had the pleasure of conversing between two newer smartphones (BlackBerry Z10 or Z30, iPhone 5, Nokia Lumina 520, Samsung Galaxy S4, ...) you may have noticed that the call sounded better than what you’re used to. That’s because many newer phones support something called wideband audio (or HD Voice), which transmits more audible frequencies to make the call sound clearer. That’s good, but QNX wants to show what’s possible beyond wideband. So in the QNX technology concept car for acoustics, we’re demoing a new audio feature called full-band stereo calling, which is like having phone calls with CD quality audio. A full-band call has over six times the transmitted frequency range of a standard call, and more than double that of wideband. And as the name suggests, full-band stereo provides two independent channels, adding to the depth and sense of presence, making the call quality something that just has to be experienced.

Sound like a V8, sip like a Volt
Lastly — we get to pump up the volume! The technology concept car for acoustics also sports engine sound enhancement (ESE), which plays synthesized engine sounds over speakers inside the car. With ESE, your engine appears to sound a little more throaty. It may not be obvious, but this is also a fuel saving technology! As carmakers look for creative ways to turn gasoline slurpers into sippers, they’re implementing technologies that dynamically modify engine cylinder firing. Those changes can sometimes make a perfectly powerful engine sound anemic, which negatively impacts customer first impressions. Unfortunately, most people want a car that sounds and performs like it has a huge V8 even if they expect it to sip gas like a Chevy Volt. Both ANC and ESE can help the customer get over their performance anxiety. ESE also lets drivers get in tune with their engine, making it easier to shift by ear.

If you’re up for a little fun, you can also use ESE to make your car sound like something completely different. We’re playing the ESE audio outside the car as well as inside it. The Kia is using QNX ESE audio to masquerade as another car. Tweet us at @QNX_Auto if you can guess what it is!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The ultimate show-me car

The fifth installment in the CES Cars of Fame series. Our inductee for this week: a most bodacious Bentley.

It's one thing to say you can do something. It's another thing to prove it. Which helps explain why we create technology concept cars.

You see, we like to tell people that flexibility and customization form the very DNA of the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment. Which they do. But in the automotive world, people don't just say "tell me"; they say "show me". And so, we used the platform to transform a Bentley Continental GT into a unique concept car, equipped with features never before seen in a vehicle.

Now here's the thing. This is the same QNX CAR Platform found in the QNX reference vehicle, which I discussed last week. But when you compare the infotainment systems in the two vehicles, the differences are dramatic: different features, different branding, different look-and-feel.

The explanation is simple: The reference vehicle shows what the QNX CAR Platform can do out of the box, while the Bentley demonstrates what the platform lets you do once you add your imagination to mix. One platform, many possibilities.

Enough talk; time to look at the car. And let's start with the exterior, because wow:

The awesome (and full HD) center stack
And now let's move to the interior, where the first thing you see is a gorgeous center stack. This immense touchscreen features a gracefully curved surface, full HD graphics, and TI’s optical touch input technology, which allows a physical control knob to be mounted directly on the screen — a feature that’s cool and useful. The center stack supports a variety of applications, including a 3D navigation system from Elektrobit that makes full use of the display:

At 17 inches, the display is big enough to display other functions, such as the car’s media player or virtual mechanic, and still have plenty of room for navigation:

The awesome (and very configurable) digital instrument cluster
The instrument cluster is implemented entirely in software, though you would hardly know it — the virtual gauges are impressively realistic. More impressive still is the cluster’s ability to morph itself on the fly. Put the car in Drive, and the cluster will display a tach, gas gauge, temperature gauge, and turn-by-turn directions — the cluster pulls these directions from the center stack’s navigation system. Put the car in Reverse, and the cluster will display a video feed from the car’s backup camera. You can also have the cluster display the current weather and current sound track:

The awesome (and just plain fun) web app
The web app works with any web browser and allows the driver to view data that the car publishes to the cloud, such as fluid levels, tire pressure, brake wear, and the current track being played by the infotainment system. It even allows the driver to remotely start or stop the engine, open or close windows, and so on:

The awesome (and nicely integrated) smartphone support
The Bentley also showcases how the QNX CAR Platform enables advanced integration with popular smartphones. For instance, the car can communicate with a smartphone to stream music, or to provide notifications of incoming email, news feeds, and other real-time information — all displayed in a manner appropriate to the automotive context. Here's an example:

The awesome everything else
I’ve only scratched the surface of what the car can do. For instance, it also provides:

  • Advanced voice rec — Just say “Hello Bentley,” and the car’s voice recognition system immediately comes to life and begins to interact with you — in a British accent, of course.
  • Advanced multimedia system — Includes support for Internet radio.
  • Video conferencing with realistic telepresence — Separate cameras for the driver and passenger provide independent video streams, while fullband voice technology from QNX offers expanded bandwidth for greater telepresence.
  • LTE connectivity — The car features an LTE radio modem, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot for devices you bring into the car.

Moving pictures
Okay, time for some video. Here's a fun look at the making of the car:

And here's a run-through of the car's many capabilities, filmed by our friends at TI during 2013 CES:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Is this the most jazzed-up Jeep ever to hit CES?

The fourth installment in the CES Cars of Fame series. Our inductee for this week: a Jeep that gets personal.

Paul Leroux
It might not be as hip as the Prius or as fast as the Porsche. But it's fun, practical, and flexible. Better yet, you can drive it just about anywhere. Which makes it the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the latest features of the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment.

It's called the QNX reference vehicle, and it's been to CES in Las Vegas, as well as to Detroit, New York City, and lots of places in between. It's our go-to vehicle for whenever we want to hit the road and showcase our latest infotainment technology. It even made a guest appearance at IBM's recent Information On Demand 2013 Big Data conference, where it demonstrated the power of connecting cars to the cloud.

The reference vehicle, which is based on a Jeep Wrangler, serves a different purpose than our technology concept cars. Those vehicles take the QNX CAR Platform as a starting point to demonstrate how the platform can help automakers hit new levels of innovation. The reference vehicle plays a more modest, but equally important, role: to show what our the platform can do out of the box.

For instance, we updated the Jeep recently to show how version 2.1 of the QNX CAR Platform will allow developers to blend a variety of application and HMI technologies on the same display. In this case, the Jeep's head unit is running a mix of native, HTML5, and Android apps on an HMI built with the Qt application framework:

Getting personal
We also use the Jeep to demonstrate the platform's support for customization and personalization. For instance, here is the first demonstration instrument cluster we created specifically for the Jeep:

And here's a more recent version:

These clusters may look very different, but they share the same underlying features, such as the ability to display turn-by-turn directions, weather updates, and other information provided by the head unit.

Keeping with the theme of personalization, the Jeep also demonstrates how the QNX CAR Platform allows developers to create re-skinnable HMIs. Here, for example, is a radio app in one skin:

And here's the same app in a different skin:

This re-skinnability isn't just cool; it also demonstrates how the QNX CAR Platform can help automotive developers create a single underlying code base and re-use it across multiple vehicle lines. Good, that.

Getting complementary
The Jeep is also the perfect vehicle to showcase the ecosystem of complementary apps and services integrated with the QNX CAR Platform, such as the (very cool) street director navigation system from Elektrobit:

To return to the question, is this really the most jazzed-up Jeep to hit CES? Well, it will be making a return trip to CES in just a few weeks, with a whole new software build. So if you're in town, drop by and let us know what you think.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Porsche you could talk to

The third installment in the CES Cars of Fame series. Our inductee for this week: a very connected Porsche 911.

Paul Leroux
I have a confession to make. The day before QNX Software Systems unveiled this technology concept at car at 2012 CES, I leaked the news on the On Q blog. Mind you, the leak was unintentional. I had been editing a post that described the car and, instead of hitting Save, I hit Publish by mistake. Dumb, I know.

I immediately took down the post and informed my colleagues of the error. Fortunately, my RSS feed didn't give me away, and the launch, which had been strictly under wraps, went ahead as planned. But boy, did I feel stupid.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let's see what the hubbub was about. The car, based on a Porsche 911 Carrera, came equipped with an array of features built by the QNX concept team, including one-touch smartphone pairing, high-definition hands-free calls, rear-seat entertainment, and a digital instrument cluster.

So, you ready for a tour?

The car
Let's start with the exterior. Because man, what an exterior:

The instrument cluster
Once you got behind the wheel, the first thing you saw was the instrument cluster. But
this was no ordinary cluster. It could dynamically reconfigure itself — in response to voice commands, no less. It could even communicate with the navigation system to display turn-by-turn directions. And it was designed to honor the look-and-feel of the stock 911 cluster:

The head unit
To your right, you could see the head unit. Here is the unit's main screen, from which you could access all of the system's key functions:

And here's another screen, showing the system's media player:

The front-seat control of backseat infotainment
The Porsche also showcased how a head unit could offer front-seat control of backseat entertainment — perfect for when you need to control what your kids are watching or listening to:

The voice recognition
The Porsche was outfitted with cloud-based voice recognition, which let you enter navigation destinations naturally, without having to use artificial grammars. Check out this Engadget clip, taken at an AT&T event in New York City:

The car also included features that neither words nor pictures can capture adequately. But let me try, anyway:

One-touch Bluetooth pairing — Allowed you to pair a phone to the car simply by touching the phone to an NFC reader embedded in the center console; no complicated menus to wade through.

Text-to-speech integration — Could read aloud incoming emails, text messages, and BBM messages.

High-definition voice technology — Used 48KHz full stereo bandwidth for clear, high-fidelity hands-free calls.

The car also ran a variety of apps, including TCS hybrid navigation, Vlingo voice-to-text, Poynt virtual assistant, Weather Network, and streaming Internet radio from Pandora, Nobex, Slacker, and TuneIn.

The point
The point of this car wasn't simply to be cool, but to demonstrate what's possible in next-gen infotainment systems. More specifically, it was designed to showcase the capabilities of the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment. In fact, it did such a good job on that count that the platform took home the 2012 CES Best of Show award, in the car tech category:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More QNX-powered cars and infotainment systems from 2011 CES

The second installment in our CES Cars of Fame series. Today, we look at several systems from the 2011 CES event, starting with this week's inductee, a BMW Z4.

Paul Leroux
I've led you astray — sort of. Last week I stated that the LTE Connected Car, the first QNX-powered technology concept car, appeared at 2011 CES. But I didn't mention that QNX technology was at the core of several other innovative vehicles and infotainment systems at CES that year.

So let me set the record straight. And the best place to start is the QNX booth at 2011 CES, where a BMW Z4 roadster was the front-and-center attraction.

BMW Z4 Roadster with ConnectedDrive
The Z4 wasn't a technology concept car, but a true production car straight off the dealer lot. It was equipped with the QNX-based BMW ConnectedDrive system, which offers real-time traffic information, automatic emergency calling, and a text-to-speech feature that can read aloud emails, appointments, text messages, and other information from Bluetooth smartphones. It's a cool system right at home in this equally cool cockpit:

Heck, the whole car was cool, from the wheels up:

Audi A8 with Google Earth
Mind you, the coolness didn't stop at the QNX booth. Just down the hall, Audi showcased an A8 sedan equipped with the QNX-based 3G MMI infotainment system, featuring Google Earth. This same model drove home with the 2011 Edmunds Breakthrough Technology award a short while later.

I don't have any photos of the Audi from the CES show floor, but if you head over to the On Q blog, you can see some snaps from an automotive event that QNX hosted in Stuttgart two months earlier. The photos highlight the A8's innovative touchpad, which lets you input destination names by tracing them with your finger.

Toyota Entune infotainment system
And now to another award-winning QNX-based system. Toyota Entune embraces a simple, yet hard-to-achieve concept: help drivers interact with mobile content and applications in a non-distracting, handsfree fashion. For instance, if you are searching for a nearby restaurant, Entune lets you ask for it in a conversational fashion; no need for specific voice commands.

You could tell the judges for the CNET Best of CES awards were impressed, because they awarded Entune first prize, in the Car Tech category — the first of three QNX-powered systems to do. QNX Software Systems went on to win in 2011 for its QNX CAR Platform and then Chevy won in 2012 for its MyLink system. Not too shabby.

A cluster of clusters
We've looked at just three of the many QNX-based automotive systems showcased at 2011 CES. For instance, QNX also demonstrated digital instrument clusters built by Visteon for the Land Rover Range Rover and for the Jaguar XJ sedan, below:

Freescale, NVIDIA, TeleNav, and Texas Instruments also got into the act, demonstrating QNX systems in their booths and meeting areas.

Do you have any memories of 2011 CES? I'd love to hear them.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CES Cars of Fame

It’s that time of year again — and we’re not just talking about turkeys and Christmas trees. CES 2014 is right around the corner and QNX Software Systems will again be at the show, ready to unveil a new technology concept car.

For the past couple of years, we’ve driven into CES with cars that explore the future of automotive technology. Each car represents an important part of QNX history and because of this, we're excited to launch CES Cars of Fame. Each week, we’ll highlight a car on our blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page that we have showcased at CES. We’ll look at what made these cars so special and at the response they generated in the media and auto industry. And you get to participate, too: at the end of the series, you can vote for your favorite car!

We’re kicking things off on Tuesday, November 19. So stay tuned to this space and to @QNX_Auto on Twitter and to the QNX Software Systems Facebook page.

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 Coup√©.

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 Coup√© 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. :-)