Did you know that the average American spends more than 300 hours per year in their car? That’s equivalent to 7.5 work weeks stuck behind the wheel. Imagine now if a Car OEM or service provider could find a way to use that “captive” time of the consumer to both their, and the consumers benefit.The in-vehicle infotainment and telematics market is really heating up! There are announcements from every corner of the automotive industry and numerous new entrants introducing products, initiatives or innovative research. This is clearly a market in transition as personalized mobile media and internet on-the-go are quickly becoming highly desirable by consumers. Meanwhile, the automotive OEMs scramble to keep pace with both the consumer desire to bring personalized content into the car, and their own interest to leverage this into a “branded” experience. However, the industry is attempting to deliver on breakthrough capabilities without driving the required platform change to make it sustainable. While we’ve seen some interesting in-car solutions that allow for brought-in devices to be safely used while driving, and even compelling new in-car applications such as rear-seat entertainment, the industry is not broadly changing the pace of innovation and deployment. For example, if you order a navigation system with your new vehicle today, the underlying technology is easily 3 to 5 years old – compare that to consumer electronics devices available off-the-shelf, such as a hand-held GPS device and the difference is clear. Establishing a true open platform that can be dynamically upgraded through software updates is paramount to making this shift. Heck, I could go as far to say that there is nothing that prevents the industry from driving toward an upgradeable hardware platform. Innovation will happen quickly at the mobile consumer device level and the automotive industry needs a method to quickly leverage that innovation. Hence, some level of architectural consistency between nomadic devices and embedded in-car technologies is pretty important, at least in my view. Moblin.org is a promising initiative as it delivers the required TTM and TCO advantages to the industry. Moblin.org was established for Mobile Internet Devices (MID’s), but isn’t a car just a really “big MID” on wheels with a few extended capabilities? Intel has introduced several reference designs taking advantage of the new low-power AtomTM processor family and is working with WindRiver Systems on an automotive-grade, open source Linux solution. Both are good first steps in building a more open platform. However, much more is needed and much more is to come in the very near future! Intel is collaborating with several tier 1’s and OEM’s to establish an open platform for infotainment deployments so that new applications and services can be made available in the car quickly. Leveraging an broad eco-system of software developers, applications, and services capabilities will unleash the TTM advantage required and only the Intel Atom processor based platform can deliver on this promise. The next few years are going to be interesting as we bring in-car technologies, consumer electronics, uncompromised internet access, and services together. More information about Intel and telematics is available here. I’m hosting an Infotainment panel discussion at Telematics Detroit tomorrow. Check back later this week for my video blog from the show!
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