Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Setting the Pace for Automotive Electronic Innovation

Welcome to the first installment in a series of guest posts from Paul Sykes of Freescale’s driver information systems team.

Recently, I traded in my MY2002 SUV for a new MY2012 vehicle. At the time, the MY2002 was quite advanced in its in-cabin electronics and styling, but wow — times have changed! Gone are the aftermarket satellite radio and PND that were attached, with wires dangling, at various places in my cabin.

The newest generation of vehicles offers complete and total integration, including new features that didn’t exist in 2002, such as USB/iPod interfaces, HD Radio, and a rear view camera.

But here’s the problem. I work in this great industry of automotive electronics and have some view of what’s coming in the next wave of vehicles. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Do I buy now or wait for the next model year? It’s like trying to time when to jump into your next cell phone or tablet purchase, only the time scale is a bit different.

The pace of electronic innovation has increased in this industry and you don’t have to wait 10 model years (like I did) to see it. It’s exciting to be a part of the supply base that is helping this industry move faster while maintaining some of the highest standards of quality and reliability over a long product life.

Fundamentally, at the heart of every embedded electronic vehicle system, incoming data needs to get processed and acted upon, using complex software algorithms. At Freescale, sensor and processor innovations make the future possible by doing these fundamental elements better, faster, and more reliably.

Ecosystem partners like QNX Software Systems provide many of the complex algorithms required to realize infotainment and instrument cluster systems. These same systems are often powered with Freescale i.MX processors.

In the latest generation, the i.MX 6 Series, Freescale has provided the most scalable line-up of products available. Scalability means not only performance and function scalability, but also pin-to-pin hardware compatibility across the entire series. This is one example of how the processor can help pick up the innovation pace. With hardware and software compatibility, system makers can develop more products to meet a broader range of market needs, in a shorter amount of time.

The Freescale i.MX 6 Series has been chosen to power the next-generation
GM OnStar system.

In future posts, I will offer Freescale’s perspective on many of the current trends in driver information systems as well as our product collaborations with QNX to bring unique value to the industry.

Here’s a little more about Paul and the Freescale Driver Information Team:

Paul has more than 15 years’ experience in the semiconductor industry, including product development, program management, and marketing positions. For the past several years, Paul has lived in Michigan and focuses exclusively on the automotive telematics, audio/infotainment, and instrument cluster application spaces.

Freescale’s Driver Information Team is driving the global strategy and product development for solutions to address the multitude of applications in the rapid growth and innovation area of Driver Information Systems. This includes instrument cluster, graphics displays, audio and infotainment, and telematics.

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