For the past few years OEMs have been exploring what the possibilities are for integrating wireless devices into the car to make it a truly connected vehicle. Many mainstream offerings already exist that make use of classic Bluetooth® profiles. These include HFP for hands-free calling, A2DP for streaming wireless audio and MAP for sharing of messages between phones and infotainment systems. Over the next few years we will begin to see more OEMs make use of Wi-Fi® to support faster connections and downloads to the infotainment system, as well as adoption of Bluetooth Smart based around solutions such as the CSR1010™ auto. This will lead to infotainment systems that go beyond traditional hands-free phone and contact sync use cases to also include exciting new applications, such as keyless entry – this is where individual driver settings and vehicle information can be stored and shared from the key fob over Bluetooth Smart. With Bluetooth Smart the infotainment system may also receive biological measurements from the driver using available healthcare and sport fitness profiles from low power sensors worn by the driver, allowing the infotainment system to assess current health and stress levels.
But jump forward a decade, and the applications we use in the car will have increased dramatically. The connected car of 2025 will certainly be filled to the brim with technology that we are only just dipping our toes into today and in my view, it will be the infotainment system that bears the load.
This is because all trends point towards drivers having either more time behind the wheel due to self-driving cars or, more likely, more reasons to be distracted due to a slew of extra features within the car. In both scenarios, cars will nevertheless require technology that will allow for short lapses of attention from the driver. Sensors will inform the car about the surrounding conditions as well as the state of the driver, enabling the car to act independently of the driver if necessary via automatic braking, acceleration, steering etc. These advanced features will allow the driver to interact with more feature-laden infotainment systems and offset today’s hazard implications of having your eyes off the road for extended periods of time.
So how will infotainment systems evolve to meet these needs? Change will come in the form of the Bluetooth Smart low energy communications as discussed above and increasingly high speed wireless links to a cloud component which will lend a lot more processing power to infotainment systems. The cloud will tie all of the software and hardware features of the car of 2025 together. Each infotainment system will contain a heavy cloud content aspect, meaning there will need to be very good coverage for high bandwidth connections from vehicles to the internet.
For example, current voice recognition in infotainment systems is pretty poor due to variable noise inside and outside the car and the issues associated with interpreting different dialects and accents, which with present technologies is difficult to offset. These problems will be better handled in the future because more powerful processors in the car will be supported by higher speed wireless links to a cloud component which will lend a lot more processing power and learning to drastically improve automatic speech recognition.
Not every system and tool will be held in the cloud. On a luxury brand vehicle, customers are more willing to pay for embedded electronics and that justifies their higher price. Therefore systems and tools will vary accordingly. It will not be a one-size-fits-all decision as different OEMs will take different paths. Architectures will be modified according to the price-point of a vehicle. For example, on low and mid-range cars, there will be more infotainment systems that rely more heavily on bringing smartphones and tablets in the car for both content and connectivity.
Some elements though will be universally held in the cloud such as highly volatile and time dependent information such as traffic and weather. Safety functionality, display and sound rendering, in-car sensors and other functions that are very much dependent on latency speeds and use of raw uncompressed data will be processed locally in the car, whereas most non-safety related functionality will be accessible via a mobile device or wireless modem.
CSR is already pushing the limits of in-car connectivity and location positioning with our precise Quad-GNSS positioning solutions, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standalone and combo solutions supported by our RoadTunes™ and CSR Synergy® connectivity software solutions along with our SiRFprima®,and SiRFatlas® platform offerings. With the addition of cloud-based processing power in the near future, infotainment systems will evolve from being a connectivity hub to the central component of your driving experience.