Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The next chapter in car infotainment: seamless mobile integration

Tina Jeffrey
According to a survey from Forrester Research, 50% of North Americans who plan to buy cars in the next 12 months say that technology options will play an important role in their purchasing decisions. The fact is, consumers want to remain connected all the time; they don’t want to park their digital lifestyle while driving. This begs the question: what’s an automaker to do?

Allow consumers to bring in content and apps on their mobile devices. We are becoming increasingly attached to our smartphones, and this is driving a trend towards mobile-centric car infotainment. The trend is of particular benefit to buyers of low-end vehicles, in which built-in features such as navigation and speech recognition can be cost prohibitive. A smartphone-driven head unit reduces costs by leveraging the existing connectivity and processing power of the mobile device; it also provides easy access to apps the consumer has already downloaded. In fact, integration between the mobile device and head unit offers numerous benefits: it helps the car keep pace with the consumer-device lifecycle, it endows the car with app store capabilities, and it lets the car connect to the cloud through the mobile device, eliminating the need for a built-in connection.

Using the phone's connectivity and
processing power to deliver apps and
software updates.
Design in-vehicle systems to be compatible with all leading smartphones. To satisfy this requirement, the vehicle must support both proprietary and standards-based connectivity protocols, using Bluetooth, USB, and Wi-Fi. Automakers will need to deliver platforms that include support for CarPlay, iPod Out (for older Apple devices), DLNA (for BlackBerry phones and other devices), MirrorLink, and Miracast, as well as the solution that the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) promises to reveal later this year. By offering this widespread connectivity, automakers can avoid snubbing any significant portion of their prospective customer base.

Leverage and enable the mobile development community to build the apps consumers want. With companies like Apple and Google now in the fray, native brought-in apps will be a certainty, but automakers should continue to embrace HTML5 as an application platform, given its ”write once, run anywhere” mantra. HTML5 remains the most widely used cross-platform application environment and it gives automakers access to the largest pool of developers worldwide. And, as the first W3C vehicle information API specification is ratified, HTML5 application developers will be able to access vehicle information and develop compelling, car-appropriate apps that become an integral part of our daily commute.

1 comment:

  1. Tina,

    Its a shame we cannot share this great article to LinkedIn, where all my professional contacts are...