Tuesday, August 23, 2016

QNX's Fabulous Concept Cars

Thomas Bloor
Business Development Manager, BlackBerry

If you’ve been to CES chances are you’ve seen one of our concept cars, even if you’ve not been to our booth, we take these to our industry partners. Now as we start gearing up for next year’s CES there are some great innovations in the pipeline. (I’ve seen them, but I’m not telling.) So as I can’t spill the beans on what's coming, but let’s take a look at some of my favorite QNX Concept Cars from years past.

The Porsche 911 Carrera (CES 2012)
Admittedly I have a soft spot for performance cars, but the Porsche deserves headline billing in the roster as a CNet "Best of CES" winner. With revolutionary (for 2012), cloud-based voice recognition you could control the navigation system using natural language.   And, text-to-speech meant that you could listen to incoming BBMs, emails and text messages. Rounding out the roster of features that would still be considered ahead of the curve for a production car today, this model featured one-touch Bluetooth pairing.  Simply touching your phone to an NFC reader in the center console automatically paired the phone and car. 

The Bentley Continental GT (CES 2013)
In an outburst of Canadian quirkiness, we decided that when better to do a photoshoot of a Bentley Convertible than in the middle of the Canadian winter? Of course despite the -20C (-4F) weather we’d have to have the top down!

The cold and the snow do not detract from the revolutionary center stack with DLP® display from Texas Instruments. This immense (for 2013) featured an organically curved surface and TI’s optical touch input technology, which allowed physical control knobs to be mounted directly on the screen resulting in an ideal balance in physical and touchscreen controls

Taking natural language voice recognition a step further we worked with AT&T’s WatsonSM . Say "Hello Bentley," and the car's voice recognition system immediately starts interacting with you, in a distinctly British accent, old chap.

If that weren’t enough, the cluster displays the back-up camera and user configurable high resolution instrumentation. We also took the mobile office to new heights with smartphone integration with streaming music, email notification, news feeds, and other real-time information. Put the Bentley into park and you could fire up video conferencing with realistic telepresence.  

Separate cameras for the driver and passenger provide independent video streams, while high-definition voice technology from QNX offers expanded bandwidth for greater realism, while stereo telepresence makes the remote caller sound as if they’re sitting right next to you.

Mercedes CLA 45 AMG (CES 2014)
Have you looked inside a Mercedes S class recently? The horizontally orientated center stack display extends across the dash. Coincidentally our 2014 Mercedes concept had a 21-inch-wide center display extending towards the passenger enabling a seamless interaction with the vehicle.
Behind the scenes the Cluster was integrated with the center stack running both driver information and IVI functions. With seamless controllability across the touch screen, physical buttons and the jog wheel controls multi-modal input was highlighted across all available functionality. 

Not content with that, we foreshadowed greater integration of ADAS functionality warnings to the driver through both the cluster and verbally through text to speech if the local speed limits were exceeded.

Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Highlander
Now it’s not all high end luxury cars, which is just as well because they never let me drive any of them. Our Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Highlanders serve as our QNX reference vehicles showcasing what the QNX CAR application platform can do, straight out of the box. Additionally, the Toyota features our advances in in-car communication and acoustics platforms enabling an enhanced user experience for drivers and passengers.

These cars are not just  "show floor wonders" because our automotive knowledge enables us to build demonstrators for the real world, which can be driven, and the technology can be experienced first-hand. Concept clusters and displays abound, but real vehicle bus integration means these cars are drivable with real instrumentation and connectivity.

While I can’t reveal what new exciting technologies we are planning for CES 2017 (believe me, you’ll want to come and take a look), I can say that our reference vehicles are currently on tour so keep an eye open for them on the roads near you.

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